Men's Basketball Stunned by Salem State in MASCAC Semifinals, 69-68

Men's Basketball Stunned by Salem State in MASCAC Semifinals, 69-68

SALEM, Mass. -- Sean Bryan's (Lowell, MA)  three-pointer with five-seconds left completed a 17-point comeback as the Vikings of Salem State University edged the Bears of Bridgewater State University, 69-68, in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday night at Twohigh Gymnasium.

The victory pushed the #2 seed Vikings into the championship game against #5 Worcester State University. The Lancers upset top-seeded Fitchburg State University on Thursday night. The championship will be played on Saturday at Twohig Gymnasium.

The Bears end the season with an overall record of 15-12.

After a fast start offensively, the Vikings' production came to a screeching halt for a three-minute span at the 16:00 mark. The Bears limited Salem State's backcourt of Alex Santos (Lawrence, MA) and Shaquan Murray (Boston, MA) during that stretch while Rocky DeAndrade (Mansfield, MA) led Bridgewater State to an 18-10 lead with five points in that time. The Vikings had trouble securing the basketball as they committed six turnovers, which the Bears converted into 11 points.

Midway through the half, the Vikings found themselves trailing by eight points for a three-minute span, but were able to cut that deficit to just one after Shyheim Davis-Smith (Boston, MA) and Marcus Faison (Cambridge, MA) converted on two gritty plays on back-to-back possessions.

Bridgewater State retaliated to regain a 30-23 lead with the help of Patrick McGuinness' (New City, NY) tenacious defense that led to a steal and fast break layup with 1:25 on the clock. Faison however, answered for the Vikings, scoring four points in 20 seconds that cut the deficit to 30-27 at the half. Faison led all players with 11 first half points while collecting five rebounds.

Fawaz Mass (Taunton, MA) and the Bears took over in the beginning of the second half as he sparked an 11-2 run that gave the Bears a 52-35 advantage with 12:21 remaining.

With the season in the balance, Jacob Lindland (Hamilton, MA) put Salem State on his back. Lindland knocked down four three-pointers in a two-minute span that cut the deficit to just five-points, putting the game at 58-53 with just over seven minutes remaining.

Bridgewater State quickly rebuilt a ten-point (63-53) lead with 5:45 left to play as Keyon Armstrong (Brockton, MA) drained a three-pointer and Joseph Carty (Natick, MA) connected from the outside.

A 13-2 run capped off by a Lindland three-pointer gave the Vikings their first lead, 65-64, since the opening minutes of the game with two-minutes on the clock. Bridgewater turned the ball over six times during that span.

Mass reclaimed the advantage for the Bears with a three-point play on a bucket and foul shot. Murray converted 1 of 2 from the line at the other end of the floor to make it a one-point game (67-66) as the clock ticked under a minute.

On the Bears ensuing possession, DeAndrade grabbed a key offensive rebound and Mass was fouled with just 21 seconds left to play. He missed the first free throw attempt but knocked down the second to increase the BSU advantage to 68-66.

That would set the stage for Bryan's heroics as the freshman buried the game-winning three-pointer out of a timeout to secure the 69-68 victory as Salem State advances to Saturday's MASCAC final against Worcester State.

That epic three-pointer was Bryan's only points of the game. Faison led the Vikings' with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Lindland added 15 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

Mass anchored the Bears with 22 points and eight rebounds while DeAndrade added 14 points on 6-8 shooting.