Babson Park, Mass. -- Salem State defeated Tufts 90-84 in the consolation game of the "New England Big Four" Challenege on Sunday at Staake Gymnasium on the campus of Babson College. Hakeem Animashaun had a double-double of 22 points and 17 rebounds while Sean Bryan led the Vikings with 28 points. Tyreik McCauley provided 12 points and eight boards off the bench for Salem State, which improves to 2-5 while the Jumbos slip to 2-3 on the year.
Both teams struggled on the offensive end to open the game. Trailing 20-17, back-to-back baskets by Bryan and Fern Berard gave Salem State a 21-20 lead with 5:56 remaining in the first. However, two three's by Tufts temporarily gave the Jumbos a 31-27 lead before Salem State responded with a 7-0 run for a 34-31 lead. An Evan Mason tip-in and Bryan three at the buzzer gave the Vikings a 41-35 advantage at the half. Bryan had 11 first half points while Salem State went 17-36 (47.2%) from the floor. Brennan Morris topped the Jumbos with 14 points. Salem State held a solid 29-17 edge in rebounding.
The Vikings built a 14-point lead, 70-56 after a dunk by Berard with 8:40 left. Salem State's bench, which outscored their counterparts 29-10, contributed to the large lead. The Vikings maintained a double-digit margin before a three-pointer by Morris and a layup by Eric Savage found Tufts behind by just six 78-72 at the 4:15 mark. Justin Kouyoumdjian gave Tufts a chance with the Jumbos' seventh three of the half as Tufts pulled to within 84-80 in the final 1:23. A layup by Bryan Martinez and free throws by Animashaun and Matt McCune held off any chance of a comeback by Tufts as Salem State prevailed 90-84.
The Vikings ended the game 30-69 (43.5%) from the field while holding the Jumbos to 31-90 (34.4%) shooting. Morris finished with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds while Savage had 17 points for the Jumbos. Luke Rogers scored 16 points while grabbing 12 boards for Tufts, which was outrebounded 55-45.