SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University men's basketball team opened the Hampton Inn Golden Bear Tip-Off Tournament with a 91-63 victory over MCLA on Friday night at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Western New England was led by senior guard Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.), who scored a game-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Junior forward Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn.) posted a double-double effort with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while junior guard Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) contributed 17 points.
MCLA junior Noah Yearsley (Averill Park, N.Y.) paced the Trailblazers with a team-high nine points.
Western New England scored the first eight points of the contest and established its first double-digit lead at 12-2 following a Tavitian layup 3:31 into the game.
The Trailblazers kept the score close for much of the first half, as MCLA trailed by just four (16-12) with 11:37 left in the opening period. The Golden Bears took control from there, utilizing a 13-0 run over the next five minutes fueled by six points from sophomore Jon Lyons (Franklin, Tenn.) to extend their advantage to 17 (29-12). Western New England would go on to hold a 41-25 lead at the break.
The Golden Bears pushed the margin up over 20 early in the second half when McGuire completed his second straight three-point play to make it 52-30. That play was part of a 13-0 surge overall that saw Western New England stretch its lead to 59-30 just 4:12 into the second half.
The lead reached 30 (62-32) when Tavitian knocked down a triple 56 seconds later, and eventually peaked at 32 (81-49) on an Emile Exilhomme (Holliston, Mass.) layup with 5:15 to play, before Western New England settled for a 28-point triumph.
• Western New England shot 53.7% from the field while limiting MCLA to 33.9% shooting.
• The Golden Bears recorded assists on 26 of their 36 made field goals.
• Western New England outscored MCLA in the paint by a 50-18 margin.
Western New England (2-1) will take on Pine Manor in the Hampton Inn Golden Bear Tip-Off championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m. while MCLA (1-2) faces Medgar Evers in the consolation contest at 1 p.m.