New Haven, Conn. – Salem State battled back from a 14-point deficit, but it was not enough as undefeated Albertus Magnus, held on for a 69-67 win on Tuesday evening to improve to 7-0 on the season. The Vikings, who were led by 18 points and nine rebounds from Kia Fernandes, go to 1-7 on the season.
The Falcons built a 23-14 lead at the end of the first quarter after shooting a scintillating 56.3% from the floor. Salem State turned the tables in the second quarter as the Vikings' defense held Albertus Magnus to just nine points in the quarter, which allowed Salem State to enter halftime tied at 32. A free throw by Emma Pierson (Branford, Conn.) gave the Falcons a 28-14 advantage with 7:02 remaining before the Vikings closed the half with an 18-4 run allowing just one field goal in that time. Tyra Scott (Methuen, Mass.) made the most of her opportunity off the bench, scoring nine of her 13 points in that span and adding four steals.
Salem State kept the momentum going into the third quarter as the Vikings exited the third with a 56-52 lead. An 8-2 spurt early in the fourth gave Albertus Magnus the lead back 60-58 at the 7:12 mark. Trailing 63-60 the Vikings went cold from the floor, converting just once on a put back by Fernandes in a four-plus minute span that still had Salem State on the wrong end of a 65-62 score.
However, three straight turnovers by the Falcons and a pair of steals by Natalie Mellinger (Beverly, Mass.) in addition to baskets by Katie Wallace (Peabody, Mass.) and Mellinger gave Salem State a 66-65 with 1:30 remaining.
A turnover by the Vikings led to two free throws by Rah Rah Thompson (Bridgeport, Conn.) giving Albertus Magnus a one-point lead, 68-67 with twenty-five seconds left. A turnover by Salem State led to a Johnson free throw with six seconds on the clock before one last attempt by the Vikings to tie the game missed the mark and the Falcons escaped with a 69-67 victory.
Mellinger had 12 points for Salem State while Gianna Moschella (Peabody, Mass.) chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Johnson led all scorers with 26 points. Thompson - 19 points, 12 rebounds and Shyla Osmond (New Haven, Conn.) 18 points, seven rebounds and five steals also played well for the Falcons.
Salem State, which shot 23-58 (39.7%) from the field, received 49 points from its bench. Albertus Magnus went 22-61 (36.1%) from the floor and just 2-16 (12.5%) from behind the arc.