Arsenault and Johnson combine to 33 points for Panthers
SALEM, Mass. – Bryan Ortiz (Boston, Mass.) scored 13 points and Nicholas Grassa (Lynn, Mass.) added 12 points Thursday evening as Salem State University surged to a 76-64 men's basketball victory over the Plymouth State University Panthers at Twohig Gymnasium.
Anthony Hodges (Worcester, Mass.) also played well, scoring eight points while dishing out four assists, but it was the Vikings' bench that provided a spark, highlighted by Drew Healy's (Lowell, Mass.) 12 points and eight rebounds and Shaquan Murray's (Boston, Mass.) nine points that helped Salem State improve to 5-3. Salem State received 39 points from its reserves.
Sophomore Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) led the Panthers with 17 points, converting 7-of-11 field goal attempts, while sophomore Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) added 16 points and senior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) chipped in with 11.
Neither team gained an edge early, as four lead changes led to a 20-20 tie with 9:35 remaining in the first. A Grassa three and five straight points by Hodges helped Salem State build a 31-22 lead late in the first. The Vikings staved off Plymouth the rest of the half, as Salem State's bench outscored Plymouth State 18-6. Jon Perez (Weymouth, Mass.) and Murray combined for 10 of the points, going a perfect four-of-four from the field. Burt paced Plymouth State with 11 points before the break, and his free throw with two seconds left made the score 38-31 in favor of the Vikings at intermission.
Ortiz heated up with two quick three's to open up the second half as Salem State built an 11-point lead. The home team kept up the pace, and when Healey put down a forceful dunk, the Vikings' had opened up a 16 point bulge, 60-44 with 12:09 remaining. The Panthers offense went without a field goal for over six minutes. Murray's layup put Salem State up by their largest margin at 24 before both teams emptied their benches.
Salem State will travel to Endicott for a 1:00 p.m. game this Saturday while the Panthers are off until January 3rd when they travel to Eastern Connecticut for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.
(Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information)
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