By Brian Willwerth (@BriWillwerth)
BRIDGEWATER – It’s starting to get crowded at the top of the standings of the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC.)
On Wednesday night, Bridgewater State knocked off first-place Salem State, 72-61, behind 23 points from Fawaz Mass. That result, combined with Fitchburg State’s victory over Worcester State, means the Vikings are now just a ½ game ahead of the Falcons in the MASCAC. The Bears pulled to within 1 ½ games.
The Bears led the entire first half, shooting 50% from the field and taking a nine-point advantage into the locker room. But in the second half, the Vikings came out on fire, going on a 19-4 run to turn that deficit into a six-point lead.
The lead changed hands several times in the second half. With under three minutes to play and Bridgewater State up by two, Mass hit the biggest shot of the game, draining a three-pointer while getting knocked to the floor. He made the free throw to complete the four-point play. After Salem State’s Alexander Santos nailed a three-ball to cut it to three, Joseph Carty returned the favor to put the Bears back up by six, and the home team made its foul shots down the stretch.
“We maintained our composure,” said Bears’ head coach Joe Farroba. “Then we kind of righted ourselves. I think we got comfortable again, and then it got a little bit more half court so we were able to hold them off.”
The Vikings shot just 34% from the field, and were just 5-14 from the free throw line.
“The best part was, we limited (them) to one shot at the end,” added Farroba.
Carty finished with 18 points and ten rebounds. It’s his third straight double-double, and eighth of the season.
“Carty’s the guy who stirs the drink for us,” said Farroba.
The coach also praised Patrick McGuinness, who had a double-double of his own: eleven points and eleven rebounds.
For Salem State, Santos finished with 21 points, while Shaquan Murray added ten.
On Saturday, Bridgewater State travels to Worcester State, while Salem State hosts Westfield State.