Bell and Williams lead Falcons to key non-conference victory
FITCHBURG, Mass. – The Fitchburg State University men's basketball team received 29 points and nine rebounds from senior Jaleel Bell en-route to a 71-66 overtime victory over the visiting Mountaineers of Southern Vermont College on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action.
Joining Bell in double-figures were classmates Jalen Williams and Leonny Burgos. Williams finished with a double-double of ten points and ten boards, while Burgos added 11 points, three rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal.
Southern Vermont was led by sophomore Claude Payne's team-leading 20 points, 12 boards, one block and one steal, while junior Mike Pierre chipped in with 14 points, eight caroms and one assists for the Mountaineers.
Fitchburg State University opened the game with a 9-2 run. A sweet backdoor play from Burgos to sophomore Nicholas Tracy and an open three by Burgos pushed the lead to seven points. The Mountaineers countered with four points from Payne and a hoop by senior Nate Goldsmith to take their first lead of the game 11-10. After a Falcons timeout, junior Joshua Bosworth hit a jumper in the post to put the Falcons up one 11-10 with 13:15 on the clock.
Later with teams tied at 16-16, Bell sank three in a row from the charity stripe and a Burgos' layup gave the Falcons a five point cushion (21-16). Southern Vermont answered with a 6-0 run to take a 22-21 lead with 4:50 to play in the frame. The Green and Gold responded again and when newcomer Marcos Germosen notched his first points at the 2:48 mark the Falcons held a 27-22 lead.
With just over a minute to play, Bell put the Falcons up six (32-26) with a triple from the corner, however the Mountaineers closed out the half on a 6-0 run, including a Josh Borders three-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 32-31 heading into the locker room.
Knotted at 40 points apiece in the second half, the Falcons received a pair of baskets from Williams and Bell while holding SVC scoreless for over four minutes to open up a 50-41 lead with just over eight minutes to play.
Southern Vermont would answer big with a 14-0 run to take a 55-50 lead. Williams would stop the streak for the Falcons with an inside jumper and a pair of free throws from Bell would make it 55-54 with 3:38 to play. Payne would put back the rebound off a Pierre miss to push the lead back to 59-54 for Southern Vermont.
Bell would add a pair from the free throw line to make it a 3-point deficit (59-56) with 2:20 to play. Down 61-57 with 45 ticks on the clock, the Falcons scored five straight, including a three from downtown from Bell to tie the game at 61 with 19 second to play to force overtime.
In overtime, Burgos led the Falcons with a basket, a crucial blocked shot and a steal as the Falcons pulled off the 71-66 victory following a pair of key free-throws from senior Lance Hill.
The Falcons will be back in action on Monday, January 9 as they travel to MIT in a non-conference tilt at 7:00pm. Southern Vermont returns to the court on Tuesday as it visits Newbury for a 7:30 tipoff.