The Bears fall to 3-11 with an 86-73 MASCAC loss to the Owls on Saturday afternoon at the Tinsley Center.
BRIDGEWATER – With four sophomores and two freshman in the rotation, the Bridgewater State University men’s basketball team is going through growing pains.
Three starters from a team that reached the NCAA Division 3 tournament are back, but there is inexperience throughout the rest of the roster.
The growing pains continued on Saturday afternoon when the Bears stayed close with Westfield State University, only to falter in the final eight minutes.
Bridgewater State fell to 3-11 when the Owls pulled away for an 86-73 victory at the Tinsley Center, dropping the Bears to 1-1 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Westfield State (9-6, 2-0) held a three-point lead with less than nine minutes to go, then scored nine straight points, and Bridgewater State was unable to threaten the rest of the way.
“Disappointing,’’ said coach Joe Farroba, whose team is off to its worst start since the 2000-01 season. “We were right there. We had some open shots from guys who need to make them. The right people shot the ball, we just didn’t make them.’’
Ryan Carney of Easton led the Bears with 22 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.
Plymouth North graduate Rayshon Ward had his fourth straight double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds plus four blocked shots in 37 minutes and freshman point guard Admar Jaramillo of Brockton scored 12 points to go with four assists and four steals in his second career start.
Bridgewater State trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, which ended with Westfield State on top, 39-38, as Carney scored 13 of his points and Ward had 11.
The Bears found a way to slow the Owls’ offense down and went on a 23-13 run to finish the half.
“We talked about them getting out on the break. That’s their thing,’’ said Farroba. “I thought we got control of it and got them to play our style for a while. But I thought it got away again in the second half.’’
Bridgewater State held the lead twice after the break, going ahead, 42-41, on a pair of free throws by Cardinal Spellman High graduate Jaramillo with 18:09 to play and then 47-45 on a layup by Jaramillo after Carney had tied it with a 3-pointer.
A pair of Nick Crocker foul shots with 8:57 remaining pulled the Bears within 61-58, but the Owls went on that 9-0 run over a span of 2:34 to widen the gap to 70-58.
Jauch Green Jr. had two baskets in that stretch and finished with 29 points on 11 for 18 shooting, 15 rebounds and five assists. Christopher Prophert scored 18 points off the Westfield State bench, making 7 of 10 shots.
“To their credit, they took us out of what we wanted to do,’’ said Farroba, who got five points and two rebounds from freshman backup guard Jose Monteiro Jr. of Brockton. “Green is what everybody said he is. He’s that kind of player. I thought we were right there in the game. Then it kind of separated from us and I ran out of timeouts.’’
The Bears, who opened the MASCAC season last week with an easy win at the Mass. College of Liberal Arts, are home again on Wednesday night against Salem State University.
“We’re a young team with a sophomore center and two freshman point guards,’’ said Farroba. “With young guys, especially young big guys, you are up and down.
“The problem is the expectations. We’ve had a pretty good program. We’ve got three starters back and now it’s can they move into bigger roles? Hopefully going forward, we’ll be able to learn from this.’’
Jim Fenton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.