Fitchburg State Hold Off Westfield, 77-76

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WESTFIELD, Mass.  --    Nicholas Tracy scored 23 points to lead Fitchburg State to a 77-76 come from behind win over Westfield State in a Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference men's basketball game at the Woodward Center on Wednesday night.

Fitchburg improves to 10-14, 5-6 MASCAC, while Westfield State is now 10-14, 4-7 in the conference,  Fitchburg now holds a tie breaker edge over the Owls having swept the season series, winning the two games by a combined total of three points, as the two teams vie for playoff seeding in next week's MASCAC tournament.

Westfield State bolted from the gate, leading 7-0 early and 17-3 just 4:30 into the game on the strength of a pair of three-pointers from Owls' senior guard Allister Williams (Bedford HS/Boston, Mass.).

Fitchburg managed to stem the tide, and battled back to a manageable 41-36 deficit at the half after nine points apiece from Nicholas Tracy (Herron/Indianapolis, Ind.) and Jonathan Perez (Ranger College/Lowell, Mass.).

The Falcons grabbed their first lead of the game at 51-49 on a fast-break layup from Jonathan Bosworth (Lyndon State/Springfield, Mass.) with14:03 to play. Fitchburg led by as many as five points, but the Owls had another run in them, regaining the lead at 63-62 on a drive from Williams with 9:04 to play.  From there, the Owls went ice-cold from the floor, missing four straight field goal tries and shooting just 3-13 (1-7 from three-point range) in the last nine minutes of play.

Despite the shooting woes, the Owls' Marcus Collins (Rindge and Latin/Cambridge, Mass.) was fouled on a three-point try from the corner with 2.5 seconds left, and drained all three free throws to cut the lead to 77-76, but the Owls were unable to get a foul called while reaching at the Falcons ball handler on the ensuing inbounds play and the Falcons flew off with the win.

The Owls were led by 23 points from Williams, a career-best on his senior night.  Junor guard Peter Mafo (Lynn Classical/Lynn, Mass.) added 15 poiints and Moody Bey (Monson/Springfield, Mass.) finished with 10 for the Owls.  Collins scored nine points, grabbed 17 rebounds and handed out four assists.    Austin Joseph, the other Owls senior finished with five points, four assists and four rebounds.

The Owls connected on just 36 percent of their shots for the game and were just 2-11 from three-point range in the second half.

For Fitchburg, the falcons got 14 points from Perez, and 13 from Joshua Bosworth.

Westfield honored seniors Williams and Joseph and their families prior to the game.  Both players rank in the Owls top 10 all-time in three-point field goal percentage.

Westfield will play its final regular-season game on Saturday at Worcester State at 3:00 p.m., while Fitchburg will be home to host Bridgewater State on Saturday in the Falcons regular-season finale and senior day.