SALEM, Mass. - Sean Bryan (Lowell, Mass.) posted 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists to propel Salem State past the Fitchburg State Falcons 81-71 on Wednesday evening. The Vikings strengthen their hold on first place in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), improving to 7-1 and 13-8 overall. The Falcons fall to 8-12 on the year and 4-4 in conference.
It was a gritty start to the game as Fitchburg State picked up five fouls in the first three minutes. Both teams had trouble getting into a rhythm with their shooting early on. With two minutes left in the half, the Vikings jumped out to a nine-point lead with back-to-back one-and-ones from Hakeem Animashaun (Dedham, Mass.) and Bryan.
The Vikings built a 39-33 as Animashaun led the half in scoring with 14 points. Tyrell St. John (Stamford, Conn.) put up 12 first-half points for the Falcons. Salem State shot 40.6% (FG 13-32) while Fitchburg State was 13-33 (39.4%) from the floor.
For the start of the second half, it was back and forth scoring throughout the first five minutes. The Falcons trimmed the deficit to one as Tayjaun McKenzie (Lynn, Mass.) scored a fast break layup. Animashaun, who was continually triple teamed, found Alex de la Rosa (Boston, Mass.) open in the corner for a three to put the Vikings ahead 69-64 with 5:24 left.
Animashaun, who scored 13 second half points, pushed the lead to six late after converting the and-one, forcing Fitchburg State to call timeout. The Falcons sent the Vikings to the free throw line, but Salem State responded, converting 15-19 (78.9%) free throw attempts to pull away for a 10-point win.
Animashaun added 27 points and secured eight rebounds for the Vikings. Bryan Martinez (Salem, Mass.) contributed 14 points and six rebounds.
Nicholas Tracy (Indianapolis, Ind.) was all over the stat sheet for the Falcons with 20 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and four blocks. St. John poured in 16 points (FG 7-13) as well.
Salem State shot 44.1% (FG 26-59) from the floor and Fitchburg State shot 41.7% (FG 30-72).