March 5, 2009

Courtesy of Bridgewater State

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - The Bridgewater State College men's basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament with a 95-79 win over St. Joseph's College (ME) this evening before a capacity crowd at the Adrian Tinsley Center.

Winners of 15 of their last 16 games, the Bears (21-6) move on to play Middlebury College on the road on Saturday at 7 PM. The Panthers enjoyed a first-round bye.

The triumph also marks the second time that BSC has advanced in the tournament. The Bears only other NCAA Tournament victory came during the 1982-83 season as BSC defeated Muskingum College, 56-54. Their 21 wins also ties the school record for the highest amount of victories in a season matching the 21-6 campaigns of 1974-75 and 1982-83.

Sophomore forward Nicholas Motta (Fairhaven, MA) was one of three Bears to reach double-figures as he poured in a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Motta was 4-for-7 from three point land while also grabbing six rebounds.

Fellow sophomore Judah Jackson (Everett, MA) notched 23 points while junior guard Matt McLaughlin (Rochester, MA) added 16 points to go along with eight assists. Senior center Roland Millen (Stoughton, MA) also corralled a game-best 11 boards with five coming off the offensive glass.

St. Joseph's was paced by junior forward Ray Eatmon (Huntington, NY) who tallied a team-best 16 points while senior forward Elbie Murphy (Loudonville, NY) had a great all-around game with 10 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Tyler Kelly (Saco, ME) went 6-for-9 from the field finishing with 16 points while classmate Chris Davis (New York, NY) recorded 14 points off the bench. The Monks end the 2008-09 campaign with a 21-8 record.

The contest was tight early on as Bridgewater held a three point cushion (13-10), until the Bears took control of the half as they went on a 12-5 run over a five minute stretch to build the advantage to 25-15 at 12:15. BSC continued to maintain the double-digit lead throughout the remainder of the opening stanza and took a 42-30 edge into the intermission.

Coming out of the locker room the two teams traded baskets throughout the first 14 minutes of the second period. With Bridgewater leading 81-64, St. Joseph's used an 11-2 spurt to trim the lead to 83-75 with 2:58 remaining.

But McLaughlin helped the Bears settle down as he went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to aid BSC as the team went 10-for-13 from the free throw line in the last 2½ minutes of the game to help close out the contest.

Bridgewater State shot 61 percent from the floor in the first half while holding St. Joseph's to just 40 percent from the field. Little defense was played in the second period as the Bears connected for 19-for-26 of their field goals (73 percent) while the Monks were allowed to shoot a 53 percent (19-for-36).

The Bears controlled the glass posting a 32-28 advantage while BSC outscored the visitors 53-49 in the second stanza.