|Ryan Spadaford scored 16 with 6 rebounds for Tufts
MEDFORD - The Salem State University Vikings moved onto the championship round of the New England Big 4 Challenge with an 81-78 win against the Tufts University Jumbos on Saturday evening at Cousens Gym.
Salem State is now 4-3 on the season and will play Babson in the championship round Sunday at 3 pm. Tufts falls to 5-3 and will play Brandeis in the consolation game at 1 pm.
With 5:20 remaining in the game, the Jumbos held a 76-70 advantage after a three-pointer by senior forward Tommy Folliard (Richmond, VA). Salem State would answer with a pair of three-point shots by junior guard Bryan Ortiz (Salem, MA) to tie the game at 76 with 3:40 left.
Freshman center Hunter Sabety (Oceanside, NY) gave Tufts the lead back, 77-76, splitting a pair of free throws before senior forward Robert Morin (Lee, MA) knocked down two free throws to put the Vikings in front 78-77. Salem State had previously only had one other lead in the game.
Two free throws by junior guard Jon Perez (Weymouth, MA) gave the Vikings their biggest lead of the day, 80-77, and then the two clubs traded free throws before senior guard Kwame Firempong's (Los Angeles, CA) game-tying three-point attempt fell short for Tufts in the waning seconds.
In the first half, Tufts scored the first nine points, seven coming from Folliard. Salem State was able to pull within two, 16-14, at the 12:26 mark on a layup by Perez. The margin was also two at 7:48, 26-24, in favor of the Jumbos.
The Jumbos would then go on a 12-2 run to build the lead up to 12. First-year guard Tarik Smith (Bronx, NY) led the charge for Tufts, dropping in five points, including a three-pointer. Twelve would be the largest advantage of the half for the Jumbos, also holding it at 47-35 before the Vikings ended the half with junior guard Hamed Akanni (Fitchburg, MA) splitting a pair of free throws, making the halftime score 47-36 in favor of Tufts.
Ortiz finished as the game's high scorer with 24 points on 9 for 15 shooting, including 5 of 8 from long range. Four other Vikings scored in double figures: Morin (15), Perez, (11), Akanni (11) and junior guard Nicholas Grassa (Lynn, MA) with 11. Senior guard Andrew White (Medford, MA) grabbed 11 rebounds for Salem State.
The Jumbos had four players finish in double digits with Folliard and Sabety tying for team-high honors with 17 points. Sophomore guard Ryan Spadaford (Rockville Centre, NY) added 16 and Smith chipped in 14 off the bench. Senior guard Oliver Cohen (Lower Merion, OA) filled the stat sheet with nine points, seven assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Salem State out-shot Tufts 43.8% (28/64) to 43.3% (26/60). The Jumbos won the rebounding battle, 42-41.