By Brendan Coughlin
The latter half of the Bears men’s basketball season has turned into a roller coaster ride. Beginning the week, Bridgewater basketball sat at 6-1 in the conference, only behind Westfield State, who sat undefeated in the conference.
Last Tuesday, Feb. 3 Bridgewater knocked off Westfield, the top team in the MASCAC division. This avenged BSU’s only MASCAC loss on the season. In their visit to Westfield in January, the Bears were routed 90-57. Last week was a different story as BSU dominated the matchup, but needed overtime to close out their 81-77 victory.
In that victory, Michael “Flip” Lofton added to his storied career at Bridgewater. Lofton had 22 points and 17 boards leading his team to the overtime victory. The win marked a season long seven game win streak.
Senior Kyle Gibson also had a double-double, going for 14 points and ten rebounds. Another senior, Barrett Murphy, contributed offensively throughout the game with 17 points.
Down by 9 a few minutes into the second half, BSU took over the game and impressively went on a 26-6 run down the stretch to give them a comforting lead of 62-51. The tables turned when BSU went over five minutes without a single point, as Westfield took advantage and regained the lead 64-62 with a minute remaining.
Lofton cashed in on a layup to tie the score 64-64. The leader of the Bridgewater basketball team then caused a turnover to give the Bears an opportunity to win the game with the final shot of the game. Gibson found an open shot at the top of the arc, but rimmed out.
Junior guard Tyler Demelo came down with an offensive rebound and a put back for the potential win, but that bounced off as well. A tip was put back up at the basket, but did not fall and the game needed an extra period.
In the overtime period, the teams went back and forth. Senior guard Justin Clark came through on a clutch three-point shot. The shot was matched by Westfield. Lofton scored to give the Bears the lead. Murphy then came up with an important turnover and was fouled. He sank the first, and missed the second free throw only for Clark to carroll the offensive board and be sent to the line himself. Clark hit both free throws, and the Owls were forced to foul for the rest of the game. Bridgewater hit their clutch free throws to come away with the four point victory, 81-77.
A trip to Framingham State seemed to be an easy win and another notch on the Bear’s belt. Framingham currently sat at 0-8 in MASCAC play. The Bears took care of Framingham 58-51 back in January.
Lofton came through with another double-double, including 21 points and 17 boards. Murphy came through with another 17 point game as well. However, the story of the night was Framingham’s surprisingly good shooting.
They opened up a 13 point lead on the Bears in the second half. Bridgewater was able to tie the game as Gibson cashed in on a jump shot. Gibson was unable to hit a potential game-winner, sending BSU to their second overtime matchup in as many games. The overtime period was all Framingham, and they were able to close the game out on foul shots.
The Bears fell to Framingham in overtime 76-68. The surprising loss puts Bridgewater in the same position they started the week in: one game behind the MASCAC leading Westfield State.
Tyler Demelo said “I’ve never really experienced a season like this before,” speaking about their closely contested season. The Bears have played in nine games decided by five points or fewer. All but four of their 21 games on the season have been decided by single digits. Including six games that have gone into overtime. BSU’s record in those overtime games is 4-2.
“It’s kind of having a lot of wear and tear on our players that get a lot of minutes,” Demelo said. The last few games are important to the Bear’s season, and Demelo and his teammates are hoping these close outcomes do not affect their energy level down the stretch.
“We need to keep playing defense and grinding out all these close games,” he said. Simply put, Demelo thinks the team needs to “Keep getting buckets and all will be good.”
The Bear’s men’s basketball team played at Worcester St. Wednesday night. A closely contested game ended in a 72-72 tie.
Of course, the game would enter overtime. This is the third consecutive overtime game for the Bears. BSU pulled out the close victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The final score was 93-82. The scoring was more balanced in this game. Gibson and Murphy both led the team with 22 points on the night. Lofton ended with 19 points and 16 rebounds for yet another double-double.Clark added 17 points on the win. The Bear’s victory comes despite being outscored 30-13 in bench points.
BSU’s next game is Saturday Feb. 14 at 3 p.m. at the Tinsley Center. Come show support for your team.
Brendan Coughlin is the Sports Editor for The Comment.