WORCESTER, Mass. - The Worcester State University women's basketball team held on for a 57-53 victory over Salem State University on Saturday afternoon in Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference action at John P. Brissette Court.
With the win, the Lancers improve to 15-5 overall on the season and 6-1 in the MASCAC. Salem State falls to 3-16 overall on the year, and 1-6 in conference play.
The Lancers controlled the first quarter, as Salem State shot just 4-for-18 in the game's first 10 minutes. Senior Kaitlyn Berkel (Waterford, Conn.) scored the first seven points of the game for the Lancers, leading all players with nine first quarter points as Worcester State led 19-9 after one.
A 3-pointer from senior Kate Surprenant (Pelham, N.H.) in the opening minute of the second quarter gave the Lancers a 13-point advantage at 22-9, the largest lead the Lancers would hold on the afternoon. Salem State refused to go away however, out-scoring the Lancers 17-11 after Surprenant's early triple. The half was capped by a buzzer-beating three from just inside half-court by Viking sophomore Natalie Mellinger (Beverly, Mass.), sending the teams to the break with the Lancers holding a 33-26 edge.
Defense was the story of the third quarter, as the teams combined to shoot just 7-for-29 (24.1 percent) in the period as the Lancers maintained their lead. Berkel scored eight of Worcester State's 13 points in the quarter, and the teams headed to the fourth with the Lancers on top 46-38.
Salem State made a furious attempt to come back in the fourth quarter, but ultimately ran out of time. The Lancers went cold from the floor after a jumper from Berkel fell with 4:35 showing on the clock pushed the score to 55-47, which would prove to be the final Lancer field goal of the afternoon. Salem State closed the deficit to 55-52 with a bucket from senior Tyra Scott (Methuen, Mass.) with 1:19 to go, but moments later, Catherine Sweeney (Lowell, Mass.) sealed the deal with a pair of makes at the free throw line, helping the Lancers escape with the win.
Berkel led all players on the afternoon with 21 points, while also recording five rebounds and three blocks. Surprenant poured in 17 points of her own, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Coming off a triple-double against Westfield State on Thursday, Sweeney turned in another strong performance with eight points, 11 boards, and five assists.
Mellinger was the leading Viking on the afternoon, recording 16 points off the bench in the defeat. Senior Kia Fernandes (Wareham, Mass.) finished right behind Mellinger with 13 points, while Scott put up eight points and nine rebounds for Salem State.
The Lancers held a 49-35 advantage in rebounding in the victory, which included 20 offensive boards. Salem State struggled from free throw line in the contest, shooting making just 15 of 29 attempts at the charity stripe (51.7 percent). Worcester State finished with a narrow shooting advantage, knocking down 33.9 percent of their field goals (21-for-62), while Salem State shot 32.1 percent (17-for-53). Both teams had higher 3-point percentages than field goal percentages, as Salem shot 44.4 percent (4-for-9) from distance, and Worcester shot 38.5 percent (5-for-13)
Next up for the Lancers, they will travel to Framingham State for an 8 p.m. contest against the Rams on Wednesday night. Salem State travels to Fitchburg State the same night with a 7:30 tip-off.