By Jean DePlacido
---- — SALEM — The Salem State Lady Vikings basketball squad had to settle for runner-up status in their own Tip-Off Tournament this weekend, thanks to a red-hot squad from Bowdoin College.
Bowdoin went several big runs over the final 20 minutes of play to pull away from the hosts for a 81-49 victory in Saturday’s championship game at the Twohig Gymnasium. The loss dropped Salem State to 1-1 on the young season.
The first half was back-and-forth, but it was a different story after intermission when the visiting Polar Bears went on a 14-3 run. That was powered by forward Megan Phelps, who finished with 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three steals to earn a place on the All-Tournament Team.
“The first half was great; we did a lot of little things right,” said Lady Vikings head coach Michelle Cunningham. “We’re a young team and in the second half, our fatigue showed. Bowdoin got hot and they played with a lot of confidence.”
The Polar Bears, who had a height advantage, definitely heated up in the second half, shooting 56.8 percent from the field and making two-thirds of their 3-point attempts (8-for-12). What had been a six-point game quickly turned into a comfortable 17-point lead for the visitors, who hit five treys in the first seven minutes after the break.
The only Lady Viking who scored in the early going was senior guard and Salem native Ashley White, who had the first seven points of the second half for her team and finished with 12 points and 5 assists.
Junior guard Rachael Carter, who made the All-Tournament Team, had a team-high 18 points, 7 rebounds and a blocked shot for Salem State. Senior forward Lara Bruni of Gloucester (via Bishop Fenwick) led the hosts in rebounding with eight in addition to a half-dozen points, while senior captain Ginny Fleming from Peabody had 6 points, 5 rebounds and a steal.
“I’m not discouraged with the loss; I can find a lot of positives to take out of this game,” said Cunningham. “We’re still building and finding roles for everybody.”
Bowdoin’s Marle Curle was named MVP of the tourney, and SSU athletic director Tim Shea presented her with a plaque. Curle, a freshman guard from Plattsburgh, N.Y., had a game-high 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 32 minutes. Sara Binkhorst (13) and Shannon Brady (10) were also in double digits for the Polar Bears (now 2-0).