Bridgewater, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University men's basketball team erased a 14-point first-half deficit as the Bears edged the visiting Bantams of Trinity College, 66-60, this evening at the Tinsley Center. Bridgewater evens its record at 7-7 with the win, while Trinity falls to 10-5. The Bears have won each of the last three meetings between the two teams.
Trinity got out to a fast start in the game as the Bantams knocked down 13 of their first 16 field goal attempts and led 32-18 with under six minutes remaining in the first half. The Bears responded with a 12-4 run over the next 4:30 capped off by an Anthony Fortes (Providence, R.I.) three-pointer to cut the deficit to six (36-30) heading into the final minute. Fortes scored seven of his team-high 15 points during the run while freshman forward Michael Lofton (Mansfield, Mass.) tallied the other five. A three-pointer by Trinity sophomore guard Eric Dean (Gilford, N.H) with 14 seconds left was answered by a traditional three-point play by Lofton as the teams headed into the intermission with the Bantams holding the six-point advantage at 39-33.
Trinity got up by as many as nine points in the final stanza before the Bears finally came all the way back to tie the game at 55-55 on a Lofton layup with 5:06 remaining in the contest. Following a turnover, senior center Samuel Johnson (North Chelmsford, Mass.) dropped in a layup to give BSU their first lead since the 16:58 mark of the first half (9-8). A pair of free throws by freshman forward Alex Conaway (New Haven, Conn.) was answered by a Lofton layup as Bridgewater led 59-57 with 3:21 left to go. Following a Trinity miss and a BSU turnover, Bantam freshman guard Varun Ram (Clarkville, Md.) made the first of two free throw attempts but missed the second. Dean was there for the offensive rebound and the put-back to give Trinity their final lead of the game, 60-59, with 2:13 remaining. On the ensuing possession, a three-point play from senior guard Caesar Veal (Boston, Mass.) off an offensive rebound by classmate Corey Ryser (Tewksbury, Mass.) gave BSU the 62-60 lead at the 1:44 mark. Trinity would go 0-for-7 from the floor and turn the ball over once in the final minute and half, while Bridgewater knocked down four of six free throw attempts to secure the win.
Dean led the way for the Bantams as he posted a double-double with 16 points (14 in the first half) and 15 rebounds including five off the offensive glass. Senior center Chris Applegate (High Point, N.C.) added 12 points for the visitors who shot just 39.7% (23-58) from the floor despite getting off to such a torrid start. Lofton paced the hosts with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting to go along with six rebounds, four blocked shots and a pair of steals off the bench.Johnson chipped in with 11 points, nine boards and four steals for the Bears who shot 50% (23-46) from the floor. Veal and senior guard Nathan Miller (New Bedford, Mass.) came off the bench to score seven and nine points, respectively, with Veal adding three assists and a pair of steals. The BSU reserves outscored their counterparts from Trinity by a margin of 29-16.