Salem, Mass. -- Marcus Faison's (Cambridge, MA) double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds and Shaquan Murray's (Boston, Mass.) career-high 31 points spearheaded Salem State's drive to the Vikings' 17th Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament Championship as Salem State stopped Worcester State 100-82 on Saturday afternoon at Twohig Gymnasium. Faison earned MASCAC Tournament MVP as the senior recorded his 16th double-double of the season to help Salem State earn their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2012.
Despite lacking poise in the opening minutes, the Vikings overcame an early nine-point deficit five minutes into the game. The Lancers suffered a severe setback as center Paul Brooks (Arlington, MA) exited the game in the opening minutes with a knee injury and did not return. Salem State's offense became more aggressive attacking the basket as space opened up near the basket. Sean Bryan (Lowell, MA) sparked a 10-0 outburst after dropping a dime to Drew Healy (Lowell, MA) for an easy baseline dunk. That basket led to a Vikings' 16-13 lead midway through the half.
Murray (Boston, MA) anchored Salem State's offense in the first half as he tallied 18 points on 7-9 shooting. In addition, Murray led the Vikings on their second 10-0 run of the half to push the margin to 40-26 with four minutes remaining in the half. However, that lead was short lived as the Lancers answered that run with their own 11-0 skein that took the game to below the two-minute mark as they cut the Vikings' lead to just three after a Shaun McCarthy (Oxford, MA) layup. Worcester State was active on the offensive glass as they grabbed six offensive boards, which led to 13 second chance points.
With time winding down, Murray answered for Salem State with a layup in transition that allowed the home team to regain a 42-37 edge. After a Corey Gatta (Sturbridge, MA) layup brought Worcester State to within three, Howes stole the ball on the next possession to set up Ryan DiBernardo (Springfield, MA) for the game-tying triple in transition with just under thirty-seconds left. The Lancers took full advantage of the seven turnovers Salem State committed in the half as they converted them into 16 points. Worcester State could not contain the shifty Murray in the final seconds as he slipped past their press to get to the hoop for an effortless layup just as time expired. Salem State took a slight 44-42 lead heading into halftime.
The Vikings began to gain separation on the scoreboard midway though the second half due to their consistency shooting the ball. Salem State shot 51.4% from the floor in the half while they also shot above 50% from beyond the arc as well. Jacob Lindland (Hamilton, MA) raised the Vikings' lead to 64-50 with a deep three-pointer from the corner with 12:09 remaining. In fact Salem State built a lead as large as 81-60 at the 7:22 mark after Lindland knocked down a mid range jumper. Unlike the first half, Salem State didn't take their foot off the gas as they denied Worcester State of any chance at a comeback by playing tough defense and being active on the glass. Defensively, the Vikings' forced 10 Lancer turnovers in the second half alone that they were able to flip into 13 points. Their success at the foul line helped secure the win and the MASCAC title as they shot an impressive 83%, including 14-17 in the second half. Murray tallied another 13 points in the half to total 31 points on the day as he led all scorers. Bryan closed out the game with two free throws to give the Vikings a 100-82 victory.
Santos added 15 points while Lindland finished with 13 points on 5-10 shooting (3-7 from three-point range).
Jeremy Bacon (Milford, MA) carried the offense for the Lancers with a hard earned 24 points and 12 rebounds. McCarthy followed Bacon with 16 points while DiBernardo contributed with 15 points including shooting 4-6 from beyond the arc.
Salem State's seeding in the NCAA Tournament will be announced Monday, Feb. 27.
Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information