By Brian Willwerth
NORTON, MA – Bridgewater State is above .500 for the first time since winning its opener. Wheaton College is undefeated no more.
In a defensive battle that was sluggish throughout, the Bears (3-2) defeated the Lyons, 62-50, on Saturday afternoon at Emerson Gymnasium. Michael Lofton led the way offensively with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was a rock fight. It wasn’t aesthetic basketball,” said Bears’ head coach Joe Farroba. “In some cases it was good defense, and it same cases it might have been poor shot selection.”
He won’t get any argument there. Bridgewater State shot just 28% from the field. Wheaton was just 36%. The teams combined to go 6-for-29 from three-point range. But one area where Bridgewater State had a big advantage was on the offensive glass. The Bears had 17 offensive rebounds to eight for the Lyons. They also got to the line three times as often, too. Farroba said both of those were keys.
Once the Bears took the lead 18-16 with about eight minutes remaining in the first half, they never trailed the rest of the way. They jumped out to an eight-point advantage early in the second half, but the Lyons were able to cut the margin to two, as they switched to a zone defense that started to cause problems for the visitors. But the Bears never did relinquish the lead.
“The kid I brought off the bench, [Diijon Reid] hit those 3’s, and that helped,” said Farroba of Wheaton’s zone defense. “That made them blink in terms of what they’re going to do strategy-wise.”
Ryan Clinesmith led Wheaton with 18 points.
“I thought he [Clinesmith] really stood out in the second half,” said Wheaton head coach Brian Walmsley, whose team dropped to 5-1.
“Unfortunately he got two quick fouls in the first half and we sat him, [but] then he came back with a lot of energy [and] that was a big difference in the game, having him sit 15 minutes worth.”
Bridgewater State travels to Anna Maria on Tuesday night, while Wheaton will host Gordon, also on Tuesday.