Men's Basketball

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Salem State Tops Men's Hoops, 80-69, In Big 4 Semifinals

Salem State Tops Men's Hoops, 80-69, In Big 4 Semifinals

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Babson College men's basketball team suffered its second straight loss in the semifinals of the New England Big 4 Tournament at Brandeis University on Saturday, as the Beavers fell to Salem State University, 80-69. Babson (2-2) will now face either Tufts or the host Judges in the consolation game on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Four different players reached double figures for the Beavers, led by senior Russell Braithwaite, who tallied 16 points to go with six rebouds. Sophomore John Wickey added 13 points, six rebounds, and two steals, while first-year Travis Sheldon and junior Matt Palazini each netted 10 points. Sheldon also dished out four assists, junior Kenny Ross chipped in with nine points, five boards, and three helpers, and senior captain Peter Foley collected six rebounds in defeat.

Nate Simpson recorded a double-double for Salem State, finishing with 14 points and 17 boards, while Justin Nieves scored a game-high 22 points in the winning effort.

Salem State raced out to an early nine-point lead after a Simpson three-pointer made it 15-6 just over five minutes in, and the Vikings still led by the same margin after two free throws by Jamal McCollum made it 20-11 with 11:23 left in the first half. Babson then erupted for a 16-1 run over the next six minutes, beginning with a trifecta by sophomore Ryan Stowe, two free throws by Braithwaite, and a lay-up by Sheldon that cut the deficit to just one, 20-19. Following one of two free throws by Salem's Andrew White, Wickey drained back-to-back threes and Sheldon converted another lay-in as the Beavers secured their largest lead of the contest, 27-21, with 5:30 left in the period.

Unfortunately for Babson, the rest of the half would belong to the Vikings, who closed the stanza with a 20-6 burst to take control of the game. After seven straight points moved Salem State back in front, Braithwaite briefly tied things up at 28-28 with a free throw at 3:52. Nieves then ripped off five straight points to give his team the lead for good, as the Vikings eventually took a 41-33 advantage into the locker room.

The second half was all Salem State, which scored the first seven points of the period to expand its lead to 48-33 just over two minutes in. From there, the advantage would grow to as many as 23 before a late Babson run resulted in the 80-69 final.