BABSON PARK, Mass. – A powerful second half send Suffolk men's basketball over Salem State, 94-81, in the Rams' season opener at the Babson Invitational Saturday night at Staake Gymnasium.
SCORE: Suffolk 94 | Salem State 81
RECORDS: Suffolk (1-0) | Salem State (0-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
The teams were deadlocked at 44 after the first 20 minutes, but it took a while for the Rams to get that high as the blue-and-gold scored just four points over the first 3:19 of the outing to sit in a 10-point hole early on, 14-4.
It was hoop-for-hoop from the foes from there as the Vikings lead grew to 12, 20-8, at the 13:38 minute mark.
An 11-4 Rams run that was bookended by triples from Jonathan Eng pulled the blue-and-gold within two possession, 24-19, at the midway point of the opening half.
Salem State scored eight unanswered points over a 1:52 stretch to regain a double figure advantage, 32-21.
After William Rowe made a put back, Jeff Juron took a timeout to talk things through. The huddle proved to pay off in the Rams favor as they strung together a 10-3 stretch to cut the margin to two, 35-33, with just under six minutes to go until intermission.
The teams traded hoops again and Nate Hale's third trey of the first frame gave the blue-and-gold its first edge of the outing, 38-37, with 3:29 left on the clock.
Over the final three minutes of the first half, the lead was swapped once more and the score would tie twice, including at 44 with three seconds to go to send the teams into the locker room even.
See-saw action ensued out of half time with neither team building a big enough cushion to feel comfortable.
Suffolk hung onto a 52-49 lead five minutes and over the next five, the Rams slowly gained a double-digit distance, 69-58.
The Rams never let the Vikings get closer than eight points the remainder of the way and put the game out of reach with a late 6-0 stretch that turned it into a 90-74 Suffolk score.
It was cruise control from there for the blue-and-gold, who maintained its composure for the final 94-81 margin.
- Hale had a standout Suffolk debut with a 20-point, eight-rebound, three-assist, one-block, one-steal reserve effort. The junior shot 7-for-13 from the field, 3-for-3 from behind-the-arc and didn't miss in his three trips to the line (3-3). Seven of his eight caroms came from on the defensive end.
- Thomas Duffy provided 14 points with a 50 percent connection rate from the field (5-10) to go along with four helpers, two blocks, two caroms and two takeaways.
- Alex Jacovides and Brendan Mulson each chipped in 13 points. Mulson added eight rebounds and four assists as well.
- Suffolk shot 51.2 percent (37-71) as a team from the floor and 82.4 percent (14-17) at the free throw line.
- The Rams were out rebounded by the Vikings, 46-36.
- Suffolk opened its campaign at a neutral site for the 18th time, first since 2014-15.
- Suffolk opened the year in the win column for the third straight season to move to 23-29 in season openers.
- The blue-and-gold is now 7-11 when playing on an impartial court in the first game of the campaign.
- The Rams improved to 3-2 in the first outing of the year in the Jeff Juron era.
- Suffolk defeated Salem State for the first time since 1982 to improve to 10-11 all-time versus the Vikings, in a series that dates back to 1969.
- The blue-and-gold is 1-1 against SSU under Juron's guidance.
- Aidan Sullivan made his collegiate debut.
Suffolk wraps up opening weekend and concludes play at the Babson Invitational tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 10 against tournament host Babson at 2 p.m.