WESTFIELD, Mass. - Senior center Dylan Holmes (Groton, MA) posted game highs of 22points and 15 rebounds to lead Salem State to a 75-71 overtimevictory over Westfield State on Saturday, Feb. 7.
Salem improved to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Mass. StateConference with the comeback victory; the Vikings overcame aneight-point deficit in the final 8:43 of regulation.
The tough setback dropped the Owls to 13-8 overall and 6-3 inthe conference. Bridgewater State remains in first place in theconference with an 8-1 record following its 82-80 victory atFitchburg on Saturday.
Westfield led 65-61 with 55 seconds left in regulation aftersenior guard Dave Jaehnig (Quincy) converted a conventional 3-pointplay.
Salem’s Stevie Celestin (Somerville) made a driving layupwith 43 seconds remaining to cut Westfield’s lead to 65-63.Jaehnig missed two free throws with 39 seconds left, then Celestinehit a jumper to tie the score at 65-all with 27 seconds left.
Jaehnig was fouled with 4.7 seconds remaining but he missed bothfree throws. A buzzer beater shot by Salem from near halfcourt wasoff the mark and the game went into overtime.
Westfield led early in the overtime but Salem took the lead forgood on a Ricky Ogboin layup at the 2:55 mark. Jaehnig made a layupfor a 72-71 Salem lead at the 1:55 mark, but Ogboin hit anotherlayup with 19 seconds remaining to seal the big road victory.
Salem led by as many as six points midway thru the half, butWestfield took a 33-29 lead on the strength of its bench play. TheOwl reserves accounted for 26 of their first-half points.
Salem led by a point with 13:10 remaining in regulation, butWestfield clamped down with its tough defense to built itseight-point lead over the next four and a half minutes.
Ogboin scored 18 points and Celestin added 16 points, fiveassists and three steals.
Four players scored 15 points apiece for Westfield: Jaehnig,Brandon Mauer (Pittsfield), Kevin Knowles (Freetown), and JoeDicruttalo (Franklin). Jaehnig also grabbed 15 rebounds. The Owlswere only 23 for 37 from the free throw line.