Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information
SALEM, MASS. -- Alex Santos (Lawrence, Mass.) scored a season-high 26 points and Drew Healy (Lowell, Mass.) notched his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds as #25 Salem State defeated MCLA 91-81 in their regular season finale on Wednesday evening at Twohig Gymnasium. The Vikings, who entered this week's D3hoops.com Top 25, finished their conference season at 12-0, their first unbeaten MASCAC mark since 2007.
Salem State improves to 23-3 and earned the top seed in next week's Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament. The Trailbazers go to 8-15 and 5-6 in the league, and have one conference game remaining.
Salem State senior players Rayshaw Matthews (Boston, Mass.), Shaquan Murray (Boston, Mass.), Jacob Lindland (Hamilton, Mass.), Anthony Hodges (Worcester, Mass.) and Drew Healy (Lowell, Mass.) were all acknowledged before the game for their contributions and dedication to the Vikings' basketball program.
MCLA came out of the gate primed, and jumped out to an early 11-5 lead as seven quick points by Adam Conquest (Gardner, Mass.) propelled the Trailblazers. A three-pointer by Alex Santos (Lawrence, Mass.) and a bucket by Matthews pulled Salem State right back into the game. The Vikings then relied on the three-ball to create some separation, converting on 8-of-19 (42.1%) attempts for the half. Consecutive three's by Santos and another by Sean Bryan (Lowell, Mass.) put Salem State up 27-17 at the 9:05 mark.
The Trailblazers, who shot 47.1% (16-34) for the half, did not flinch as 10 straight points, highlighted by a three from Noah Yearsley (Averill Park, N.Y) tied the game at 27-all with 5:22 remaining. The two teams battled into the final minutes, but two three-pointers by Lindland sandwiched around a basket by Joe Wiggins (Pittsfield, Mass.) gave the Vikings a 40-35 advantage at halftime.
Conquest added nine points on (80.0%) 4-5 shooting from the field for the Trailblazers. Yearsley also provided a spark off the bench for MCLA with nine first half points as the Trailblazers' bench outscored their counterparts 18-7. Lindland led Salem State with 12 first half points going 50.0% (4-8) from behind the arc. Santos added nine points with three, three pointers for Salem State, which shot 38.5% (15-39 form the field in the first half.
Keiland Cross (Pittsfield, Mass.) opened the second half with a layup for MCLA, as the Trailblazers pulled to within one score at 40-37. Once again, Salem State responded, scoring seven points in thirty seconds to quickly build a 47-37 advantage.
Santos continued to have the hot hand in the second half, as his fourth three-pointer gave the Vikings a 52-40 advantage with 16:27 left. Salem State then opened up a 59-43 lead following a dunk by Healy and seemed to have the game at hand. With the game beginning to get away, MCLA took advantage of a cold spurt by Salem State that produced eight consecutive points as Hayden Bird (North Adams, Mass.) provided a spark with seven second half points to help the Trailblazers climb back into the game. Following a Bird free throw, the Trailblazers were behind by just seven points, 67-60 with 8:14 remaining. Healy rose to the challenge, scoring 16 points and adding nine rebounds after halftime. Healy's layup with with 3:38 left gave the Vikings an 83-70 advantage as Salem State was able to hold off one last push by MCLA as Santos connected with four straight points in the final minute to help the Vikings claim a 91-81 victory.
Murray had 13 points while Lindland finished with 12. Matthews chipped in nine points and five assists for Salem State, which shot 51.3% (20-39) from the floor in the second half. Conquest led the Trailblazers with 15 points to lead five players in double figures. Ki-Shawn Monroe (Springfield, Mass.) and Yearsley each had 13.