SALEM — The flu has finally hit the Salem State women’s basketball team.
Without two of their top starters last night, the Vikings got off to slow start as UMass Darmouth quickly hit double figures in the opening minutes of the game. The Corsairs never relinquished that lead, handing SSU a 76-56 loss at Twohig Gymnasium.
“They’re a very quick and athletic team,” said Salem State assistant coach Brooke Freeburg, who is holding things down while head coach Michelle Cunningham is out on maternity leave.
“Lucky for us it was a non-conference game, but we’re still hurting a bit on the numbers side of the things.”
Ginny Flemming (of Peabody) and Rachael Carter, both sidelined, watched from the bench as UMass Dartmouth went on 13-2 run in the first five minutes of the game.
The Vikings (8-7) had a tough first half, putting up just 22 points and shooting just 25 percent from the field.
The Corsairs took a 35-22 lead at halftime, but SSU made an early push in the second half.
“We wanted to limit mental mistakes and really come out with a lot of energy,” said Freeburg. “We play our best basketball when we pressure that ball, and I thought we did a lot of that in the second half. We just weren’t able sustain the entire half.”
Salem State cut the deficit to seven at one point in the second half. Seniors Bridget Dullea of Peabody and Sandra Lanier kept the team moving as both captains finished with 15 points to lead the Vikings in scoring.
“Bridget is our primary leader on the team and plays so hard for us,” explained Freeburg. “She definetely not afraid to get down on the ground; we’re so lucky to have her.
“Sandra is one of the more consistent players for us from game-to-game. She just plays really tough and pulls out a lot of great plays when we need them.”
Junior guard Ashley White also hit double-digits for the Vikings with 10 points and was grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Rachel Ledbetter added a much needed spark of the bench, dropping in eight points.
Salem State is off until next Tuesday when conference play resumes against Framingham State.