Salem, Mass. -- Andrew White (Medford, MA) hit two layups within a span of 15 seconds late in the second half to give Salem State the lead for good and propel the Vikings to a hard-fought 86-75 victory over UMaine Presque Isle Saturday night in the opening round of the 2012 Salem State Holiday Classic. The Vikings erased a seven-point second half deficit and improved to 6-4 on the season. The Owls fell to 6-5.
UMaine Presque Isle trailed by four at halftime, but came out on fire in the second half, as the Owls used a 14-3 run in the first three minutes to take their largest lead, 51-44. Michael Warner (Jr./Norwich, UK) and Claude Louis (Jr./Union, NJ) each hit three-pointers to key the surge and give the Owls their first advantage since scoring the first basket of the game.
Salem State, which led by as many as 11 in the first half, chipped away, and back-to-back buckets by Jamal McCollum (Boston, MA) and Tavone Wynder (Boston, MA) put the Vikings back on top, 58-57 with 10 minutes left. The lead changed hands five times over the next seven minutes, before White scored on a runner in the paint to give the Vikings the lead for good, 72-71 with 2:59 remaining. After a Warner miss at the other end, White corralled the rebound and raced coast-to-coast for another bucket and a three-point lead.
Brian Ortiz (Salem, MA) hit a pair of jumpers and a free throw down the stretch, as UMaine Presque Isle was unable to get any closer. Wynder's three-point play with 30 seconds remaining put the Vikings ahead by eight, and clinched the victory.
White and Wynder each finished with 17 points to lead Salem State, making 13 of the 23 combined shots they took. Justin Nieves (Lawrence, MA) finished with 14 points, while Nate Simpson (Lowell, MA) added 13 and a team-high 8 rebounds. The Vikings won despite shooting just 58% from the free throw line, although the SSU defense forced 26 turnovers by the Owls.
UMaine Preque Isle was led by Patrick Manifold (Sr./Great Yarmouth, UK) who finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-11 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds. Aaron Hutchins (Jr./East Millinocket, ME) added 15 points, Brad Trask (Sr./Easton, ME) had 14, and Louis finished with 12. The Owls' hit 8-20 three-pointers, but took 15 fewer shots than the Vikings.
In the first game, Jack Grodahl's (Portland, OR) three-pointer in overtime propelled Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to a thrilling 81-75 victory over Southern Maine in opener of the 2012 Salem State Holiday Classic. The Stags improved to 7-4 on the season. The Huskies fell to 6-4.
Tournament play continues tomorrow, when UMaine Presque Isle faces Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 2 p.m. Salem State takes on Southern Maine at 6 p.m. Both games will be played at Salem State's O'Keefe Center.