March 4, 2010

Courtesy of Bridgewater State

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Junior forward Eric Taylor (Oakland, ME) posted a double-double with 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead the visiting Beavers of UMaine Farmington to a 64-63 victory over Bridgewater State College in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament in Bridgewater.  

Farmington (15-11), which was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance, will advance to play Williams College in second round action on Saturday night at 7 PM in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  Williams (26-1)earned a first round bye.  

Host Bridgewater State was paced by junior forward Nicholas Motta (Fairhaven, MA) who scored a team-high 20 points, with 16 of those coming in the first half.  Motta, who now has 956 points in his career, also recorded seven rebounds, four assists and seven steals.  

The Bears, who were making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and fifth overall, end the season with a record of 19-8.

Junior forward Judah Jackon (Everett, MA) and junior guard Corey Connor (Providence, RI) added ten points apiece for the Bears, while sophomore guard Corey Ryser (Tewksbury, MA) tallied nine points on 4 of 6 shooting in just 14 minutes.

Junior guard Andrew Dean (Gorham, MA) scored 16 points for the visiting Beavers as he was 5-for-6 from the floor and 4 of 5 from three-point range.  Farmington also received 12 points, five rebounds and three assists from senior guard Eric Lelansky (Portland, ME).

UMaine used a strong inside presence to their advantage as they outrebounded Bridgewater State by margin of 44-27, including an 18-14 edge on the offensive glass.  The Beavers also outscored the Bears 34-16 in the paint.  Turnovers, however, were a problem for the visitors as they coughed the ball up 21 times thanks in part to 14 BSC steals.

Bridgewater trailed early in the contest as the Beavers got out to an 11-point lead (25-14) thanks to the hot shooting of Lelansky, Dean and Taylor who combined for 19 of the Farmington's first 25 points.

Staring at a double-digit deficit with under nine minutes remaining in the first half, Motta almost single-handedly brought the Bears all the way back as he outscored Farmington, 16-4, during a three minute and 36 second stretch.  Motta's scoring outburst was part of 26-8 BSC run which gave the hosts a seven-point advantage with under a minute to go in the opening stanza.

The Beavers however got back-to-back layups from Lelansky and sophomore guard Dan Kane (Bradford, ME) in the final 29 seconds of the half to cut the deficit to three (40-37) as the teams headed to the locker room.

The game was close throughout the entire second half with Bridgewater holding the biggest advantage at six points.  After a Motta jumper gave BSC a 60-57 lead with 6:17 left to play, the Bears forced back-to-back turnovers but were unable to capitalize on either of them.

Lelansky made it a one-point game as he  knocked down a jumper at the 4:46 mark.  Connor then made one of two free throws at the other end of the floor, which was answered by a Taylor put-back of a Lelansky missed layup as the game was all tied up at 61-61.

Motta had a chance to give BSC the lead but could not get a layup to fall as well as the ensuing tip.  Taylor then drove to the hoop for a layup and was fouled with 2:43 remaining on the clock.  He calmly sank the free throw to give the Beavers a three-point edge at 64-61.

Amazingly Farmington would not score again in the contest, but would hang on for the victory.

A Matt McLaughlin (Rochester, MA) jumper would pull the Bears to within a point (64-63) with 2:21 left.  A Motta steal gave BSC a chance for the lead, but the Bears turned it right back over.

Bridgewater stepped up the defensive pressure and forced an off-balance jumper with the shot clock winding down.  Senior center Chris Dijak (Lunenburg, MA) then got a big offensive rebound off a missed layup and drew a foul as he went to the free throw line with a chance to give BSC the lead.  Both foul shots were missed, but the loose ball off the rebound went out of bounds and Bridgewater got yet another reprieve with 54 seconds remaining.

Out of a timeout, a Motta three-pointer was off the mark and Bridgewater had to foul four times over 21 seconds to get the Beavers to the free throw line.  Farmington missed the front end of a one-on-one and the Bears called timeout with 5.7 seconds left.   Connor got a good look at a three-pointer in the corner but could not get it to go down.  The Bears also grabbed the offensive board, but an off-balance jumper by Jackson at the buzzer did not find the mark.

Both teams struggled from the floor in the second half with Farmington shooting 42% and Bridgewater just 36%.  After scoring 40 points in the opening 20 minutes, BSC scored just 23 points in the final stanza.  The Bears also knocked down eight three-pointers in the first half but connected on just 1 of 5 from three-point range in the second.