WESTFIELD, Mass. – Jonathan Perez made 2 of 3 free throws with 0.3 seconds left in regulation to give Fitchburg State a 79-77 win over Westfield State University in a MASCAC men's basketball game at the Woodward Center on Tuesday night.
Perez's free throws saved the night for Fitchburg State (8-9, 4-1 MASCAC), which led 15-2 to start the game, and maintained the lead throughout until Westfield (10-8, 3-2 MASCAC) tied the game on a deep three-pointer from Malik Pouncey with 56 seconds left in the game, the only point in the game in which the Falcons did not hold the lead.
The Owls played tight man to man defense on the final Falcons possession. Westfield was whistled for the foul as Perez pulled up from the top of the key as the clock was about to expire.
Fitchburg got off to the quick start in the first half behind hot shooting from Andre Ruff, who was 5-5 from behind the three point arc in the first half. Westfield trailed 49-34 at the half.
Westfield chipped away at the lead in the second half, repeatedly scoring on drives to the hoop, and getting to the foul line. Jauch Green Jr. (Cromwell / Hartford, Conn.) scored all 33 of his points in the second half, after sitting out most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
Ruff led the way for the Falcons with 20 points, finishing 6-8 from three point range. Nicholas Tracy added 17 points before fouling out, and Perez finished with 11 points. Fitchburg shot 62 percent (18-29) in the first half, but just 29.7 percent (11-37) in the second half.
For Westfield, Green finished 11-12 from the floor with one three pointer and made 10 of 15 free throws, and also grabbed 11 rebounds. Christopher Prophet (Central/Springfield, Mass.) scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half, to help keep the Owls within striking distance.
Westfield will be back in action on Thursday evening with a game at Worcester State at 5:30 p.m.