FITCHBURG -- Wins have been hard to come by in the MASCAC for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts women’s basketball team. But on Tuesday night the Trailblazers had a chance to take a step towards post-season contention.
Unfortunately for MCLA, that potential goal met its demise.
MCLA struggled from the charity stripe early which created a first-half hole, then despite a comeback in the second half, weak shooting from beyond the arch did the Trailblazers in, as MCLA fell to Fitchburg State University, 71-63.
MCLA falls to 8-16 (0-11 MASCAC) and its losing streak extends to 12 games. The Trailblazers finish their season at home on Saturday against Bridgewater State. Fitchburg State improves 10-12 (3-7 MASCAC) and was the final conference team to clinch a post-season berth.
MCLA shot 1 for 7 from the free-throw line in the first half, which hurt even more considering Fitchburg State went 9 for 10 from the line during that time span. Poor 3-point shooting attributed to the woes in the second half, as the Trailblazers shot 1 for 12 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes, and finished the game shooting 1 for 15.
"Free-throws definitely hampered us in the first half," MCLA head coach Holly McGovern said. "We missed a lot of front ends of a 1-and-1. We just did not execute tonight."
The Trailblazers got significant production from the potent tandem of Lucy Tremblay and Kait Chenevert. Tremblay scored a team-high 20 points, however she was 0 for 7 from 3-point range. Chenevert shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, scoring 12 points.
"We really weren’t hitting outside shots, so we figured the best way to score would be to attack the hoop," McGovern said. "(Tremblay) and (Chenevert) were trying to be playmakers off of the dribble."
MCLA controlled Fitchburg star Amy Fahey, holding her to only 2 points in the first half. However Fahey erupted in the second half, scoring a game high 21 points. Fitchburg center Kelsey Johnston contributed with 12 points.
Trailing by six at half time, the Trailblazers came out of the locker room on fire. Mariah Brown (9 points) and Tremblay drove to the hoop to cut the deficit to 31-29. Fitchburg pulled away a bit, embarking on a 9-2 spurt, but MCLA kept chipping away at things.
The free-throw shooting picked up in the second half as Danielle Scolpino and Tremblay were perfect during an evenly played five minute stretch. Also key critical to the stretch was a trey from Brown.
Later on, while trailing by 10 at the mid-way point of the second half, Tremblay netted a fast-break bucket, and Chenevert connected on a put-back to cut the deficit to 54-48 with 8:09 remaining.
Chenevert and Tremblay took over during the next 7 minutes down the stretch, accounting for 10 of MCLA’s next 12 points, which helped cut the deficit to 64-60 with 2:05 remaining.
"We couldn’t stop (Chenevert) and (Tremblay)," Fitchburg State University head coach Walter Paschal said. "They are both great players. We held Tremblay and Scolpino without 3’s, and that’s what we wanted to do. We’ll take that, despite their 2 point scoring."
Fitchburg responded with a 3-0 run to push to lead to seven, however Tashari Rainwater made it a two possession game with 42 seconds left when she split a free-throw trip. Then after Fitchburg State came up empty on a trip to the free-throw line, Tremblay earned a visit to the line, connecting on both which cut the deficit to 67-63 with 33 seconds remaining.
Fahey came through in the clutch for the Falcons as she sank both free-throw tries on the other end for Fitchburg. MCLA then turned the ball over on its next possession with 17 ticks left, which put an end to its post-season hopes.