The men’s basketball team won 75-66 Tuesday night against Westfield State. The win avenged a loss suffered earlier in the week to the Owls.
“We needed a win,” said coach Jamie Morrison. “It didn’t matter who we played, we needed to win this game.”
After losing a close game on Thursday, Feb. 3 to Westfield, the Blazers welcomed the Owls to their home court in an attempt to stop a two-game skid and get revenge from their previous meeting.
With several fans scattering the bleachers wearing white MCLA t-shirts to recognize breast cancer awareness, the Blazers came out of the gates with intensity, jumping out to an early 5-0 lead. However, Westfield quickly answered with an 8-0 run of their own.
According to senior guard Kris McLaughlin, the Blazers had to remain composed and feed off each other’s energy. After some early turnovers, the team settled down and took an 18-17 lead with seven minutes to go in the first-half.
Despite turning the ball over nine times, the Blazers held the visiting Owls to 33% shooting in the first-half. They also forced 12 turnovers leading to a five point lead at halftime.
In the second-half, the team focused on controlling the tempo and rebounding the ball, according to Morrison. The Blazers tried to combat the slow-paced offense of Westfield State with a quick and aggressive mind set.
Another adjustment made at halftime was to give the big-guy down low, Jon Greenberg, the basketball. The Blazers ran an isolation-play, giving Greenberg more room to operate.
“We saw that they were playing him straight-up, so we made a conscious effort to get him some touches,” said coach Morrison.
Westfield State’s game-plan was to control the paint with their center Matt Devine. Devine lead the Owls in points and shots attempted, keeping them in the game.
For a majority of the second-half there was a battle down low. Both Greenberg and Westfield State’s star-center played a big role for their teams. Both players were going back-and-forth with several baskets and trips to the foul-line for the remainder of the game.
The difference maker in the game was the supporting cast. Along with Greenberg’s double-double, Chris Harris scored 21 points, Jamal Brown had 10 rebounds, and Tyrell Mosley added nine points
of his own. The Blazers hit some important three-pointers, giving them momentum, which carried the team to the victory.
According to McLaughlin, this was an important victory. After losing two straight games, the Blazers found themselves in second place in the MASCAC standings, only a half game behind Salem State.
“We don’t want to go on the road this week after losing three straight,” said coach Morrison.
Tonight, the Blazers go on the road to take on Salem State. This game is for first place in the standings and a potential home-court advantage in the conference tournament.
Home-court advantage is crucial to the Blazer’s success. They are 10-1 on their home turf; however the team is a meager 3-4 in road games.
“We just play different here,” said McLaughlin right after the win. “Thursday’s game may be the biggest game of the year.”
Not only do the Blazers have an away game against Salem State, but they play two other road conference games this week.
With Matchups against Salem, Framingham, and Fitchburg, the Blazers will be put to the test in their attempt at a first-place finish in the MASCAC standings.