BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Salve Regina University men's basketball team posted a 91-81 victory over host Bridgewater State University in the opening game of The Cave Classic on Friday evening at the Tinsley Center.
With the win, the Seahawks (1-2) advance to the tournament championship game on Saturday afternoon at three against Colby-Sawyer College. The Bears (0-2) will play in the consolation game at one o'clock versus Castleton University.
Sophomore guard Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.) paced Salve Regina with a team-best 19 points, while freshman forward Mikey Spencer (Abington, Mass.) added 18 points and sophomore forward Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) checked in with 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting to go along with a game-high eight rebounds.
BSU junior guard Ryan Carney (Easton, Mass.)) led all scorers with 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Carney knocked down 6 of 7 three-point field goal attempts. Junior forward Rayshon Ward (Fayetteville, N.C.) chipped in 15 points and five rebounds for the Bears.
Salve held a 42-40 lead at the break after a tightly contested first half. The Seahawks shot 50% (15-30) from the floor in the opening stanza and went 10-for-13 (77%) at the free throw line. The Bears connected on 61% (17-28) of their field goal attempts over the first 20 minutes including 4-for-9 (44%) from behind the arc.
Carney scored 12 points on perfect 5 of 5 shooting to lead all players in the first half, while sophomore center Nick Crocker (East Falmouth, Mass.) added nine points on 4 of 4 shooting. Senior forward Kevin Mannix (Barrington, R.I.) and Friberg tallied nine points apiece to pace the visitors in the opening stanza.
Salve controlled play over the first 4 ½ minutes of the second half as the Seahawks outscored the Bears 19-9 during that span to open up a 61-49 lead. Salve maintained the double-digit advantage until Carney drained a three-pointer to pull Bridgewater to within nine (73-64) with nine minutes remaining in the contest.
The Bears, however, could not maintain the momentum as they scored just two points over the next four minutes as the Salve lead ballooned to 14 (80-66) with five minutes left to play.
A pair of Carney trifectas helped the Bears pull to within nine, 82-73, as the clock ticked down to three minutes. Bridgewater forced a turnover on the Seahawks' ensuing possession, but the Bears were unable to capitalize at the other end of the floor. The Seahawks scored the next five points including a breakaway dunk by Spencer with under a minute remaining to make it a 14-point game (87-73) and put the game out of reach.
Salve shot 58% (33-57) from the floor for the game and connected on 20 of 25 (80%) free throw attempts. The Seahawks held a 30-23 rebounding advantage, attempted 14 more free throws and forced 23 BSU turnovers while committing 16. Bridgewater shot 57% (32-56) from the field and 50% (10-20) from behind the arc. The Bears also went 7-for-11 (64%) at the charity stripe.