SALEM — The lead the Salem State men’s basketball team held for most of last night’s game may have seemed comfortable, but everything has been too close for comfort for the Vikings lately.
It’s always a big game when local rivals Endicott College and Salem State meet on the hardwood, and both gave it everything they had in the feature game of the Salem State Holiday Classic last night. Salem State seemed to have control for the majority of the game, but Endicott roared back in the last five minutes to hand the Vikings their first loss on their home court, 84-80.
It’s becoming all too familiar a pattern, the failure to hang onto double-digit halftime leads and it has Salem coach Chris Harvey concerned. His team was up by 11 at intermission, but was outscored 50-35 in the second half.
“This is the third straight game where we’ve had a double-digit halftime lead only to lose it in the second half. We beat Bates (Sunday night) on a buzzer beater, and the game before that Southern Maine came back to make it close at the end,” Harvey said.
“We’ve got to get better possessions when we need them. It was a good game, and the kids were making plays, but you can’t give up 50 points in the second half in college basketball because if you do you are going to lose a lot of games.”
The Vikings took the early lead on a strength of six 3-pointers. Junior guard Jon Perez, who was named MVP for his team, hit four while Bryan Ortiz had a pair in the first 20 minutes. Perez and Ortiz led Salem with 22 points apiece including four treys. Hamed Akanni was also in double figures with a dozen. Akanni and Andrew White each had eight rebounds.