Bell collected game-best 26 points for Falcons in non-conference setback
Worcester, Mass. – Clark University had four players reach double figures and the Cougars shot nearly 50 percent from the field on their way to an 87-85 win over Worcester-area rival Fitchburg State in non-league men's basketball action on Tuesday night at the Kneller Center.
Clark connected on 49 percent of their shots overall, including a 60 percent clip in the final 20 minutes when they put 58 points on the board on their way to their fifth win of the season.
The Falcons were controlling the interior through most of the contest, but David Mercier scored inside early in the second half to knot the score at 38-38 before Fitchburg State went on to score nine of the next 12 points to take a 47-40 lead courtesy of three free throws from Jaleel Bell, a Bell triple and another three from Lance Hill.
Clark eventually whittled the Falcon advantage down and eventually took a 58-57 lead on a pair of three-pointers by Luca McCormick on consecutive possessions.
That lead was short lived, however, as Fitchburg State pushed ahead again when Bell picked off a pass and scored on the other end to put the Falcons on top, 68-63.
Mercier answered back all on his own for the Scarlet and White, beginning with a layup and pair of free throws as well as back-to-back three-pointers - scoring ten straight points to forge Clark ahead, 73-68.
After Brendan Kittredge made two more from the charity stripe to complete the 12-2 run, the Cougars looked to be in good shape, ahead 75-70 with less than four minutes to play.
Fitchburg State made one more push as Bell and Carlos Bermudez-Glean swished three-pointers before Bell made a steal at half court and scored easily on the other end to retie the contest at 80-80 with 1:21 to play.
On the next Clark possession, Joe Atkinson found Mercier on the left wing and he knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer, making the score 83-80.
After a McCormick free throw and a subsequent Leonny Burgos basket for the Falcons, the game was still in doubt at 84-82, but John Pisacreta made two free throws for a little more breathing room with 22 seconds to go, en-route to the 87-85 final.
Clark connected on a season-best 12 three-pointers, including eight in the second half, Fitchburg State held a 36-32 edge on the glass and 44-20 edge on points in the paint.
Mercier led Clark with 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting, while Pisacreta added 19 of his own and McCormick totaled 17. Kittredge, meanwhile, continued his solid play off the bench, finishing with ten points and four rebounds. Atkinson stuffed the stat sheet, ending with eight points, eight rebounds, eight assists (one turnover) and three steals.
Bell led all scorers with 26 points – 21 of which came after halftime. Bermudez-Glean came off the bench for the Falcons and gave them a spark, recording 13 points in just 19 minutes while both Chima Ebele and Hill added ten apiece for the Green and Gold.
The Cougars continue their busy week of action on Thursday when they welcome former assistant coach Peter Mugar and his Framingham State Rams to the Kneller. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. Fitchburg State, meanwhile, is off until Friday, December 30th when they host Brandeis at 1:00 p.m.
Release Courtesy of Clark SID Office