North Adams, MA- Salem State's Kia Fernandes scored a game best 22 points and completed the double double in leading the Vikings past the MCLA Trailblazers 59-48 this evening in MASCAC action. The Vikings (6-18 overall, 4-8 MASCAC) outscored MCLA 18-6 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
The Trailblazers drop to 5-18 on the season and sit at 1-10 in the conference.
Salem State trailed 42-41 after three quarters of play, but used their strong finish to pull away. MCLA led 46-45 after Courtney Pingelski scored with 5:30 remaining, but the hosts could only muster up two points the rest of the way. Salem regained the lead on a Fernandes drive to the hoop on the ensuing possession and never looked back. Her bucket fueled a 6-0 spurt capped by a pair of Courtney Paschal free throws putting the Vikings in front 51-46 with just three minutes left to play.
MCLA's Pingelski scored again at the two minute mark to pull within 51-48, but the Trailblazers went 0-4 over the final two minutes of play. Salem closed the game on an 8-0 run Natalie Mellinger's three pointer with 1:13 left was the dagger.
The first quarter saw MCLA's Erika Ryan come out firing. She scored all 13 of her first half points in the quarter including 9 straight at one point to push the Trailblazers out to an early 13-3 advantage. The Vikings would cut into the deficit and trail just 17-16 at the end of one quarter.
Salem took a brief lead to start the second quarter, but MCLA quickly regained it on Karina Mattera's jumper. The Trailblazers would go on to lead 30-25 at halftime. MCLA shot 46% in the half compared to just 26% for the Vikings. MCLA also outrebounded Salem 24-14 in the half.
Fernandes did most of her damage in the second half as she collected 16 of her 22 over the closing quarters. She was 8-17 from the floor. Mellinger added 16 points including a trio of three pointers in the win. The Vikings shot just 30% in the win, but they only turned the ball over 8 times on the night to secure the win.
MCLA was paced by Ryan's career best 17 point night. She added 5 rebounds and 3 assists for the Trailblazers.
MCLA is at Framingham State in the season finale and will need a win plus some help to enter the MASCAC tournament. The Vikings are off until the opening round of the playoffs which begin on Tuesday night.