NORTH ADAMS -- A season that started with a great deal of promise has become a battle of survival for the MCLA men’s basketball team.
The preseason pick to win the MASCAC title, the Trailblazers fell to 1-3 in conference play on Saturday afternoon, losing to Framingham State 80-65.
"I think the guys are feeling the pressure a little bit," MCLA coach Jamie Morrison said. "I think it’s been a frustrating season."
Frustrating could also be the word to define Saturday’s game. The Trailblazers led 12-10 after John Jones completed a 3-point play with 14:18 left in the first half. From that point, the visiting Rams went on a 16-3 run over an eight-minute span. And while the Trailblazers did close a second-half lead to five points, they were unable to get even.
"If we don’t make shots, it’s tough," said Morrison. "We shot [30.9 percent]. I thought we had a lot of good looks but they didn’t go down. We didn’t get into a rhythm offensively at all."
The Trailblazers (4-12) are off until Thursday when Keene State comes to the Amsler Campus Center Gym. Morrison, his assistants and the team, have until then to figure out how to change things.
MCLA trailed 35-25 at halftime and fell behind by 15 midway through the second half. Gradually, the Trailblazers clawed their way close. and when Ruben DelRosario scored off a steal by teammate Paul Maurice, it was 65-59 with 3:26 remaining in the game.
The Trailblazers got the stop when Charles Collins was fouled, but missed two free throws. Kraig Page rebounded for MCLA and missed a jumper at the offensive end. DelRosario got a rebound, missed a 3-pointer and Jeremic Bennett couldn’t score on the putback. Three chances to pull within four, and the Trailblazers couldn’t.
At the other end, Ronnie DesBarros scored, upping the lead to eight. From there, it was a free-throw shooting contest that the Rams won.
Going into the final two minutes, Framingham was 15 of 30 from the line. But in those last two minutes, the Rams iced the victory by going 13 for 14 from the charity stripe.
"Is that what we did?" Framingham coach Evan O’Brien asked rhetorically. "We would expect them to shoot a little better than 50 percent during the game. We have a lot of young guys and the ones who were hitting the foul shots at the end were a lot of young guys. We’re proud of them."
Todd Hunt led MCLA with 14 points and six rebounds. DelRosario had 10 and Bennett came off the bench to score 13. John Jones scored nine points in 14 minutes and fouled out of the game.
Four Rams (7-9, 2-2) scored in double figures. DeBarros had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
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