SALEM, Mass. -- Kia Fernandes (Wareham, Mass.) scored a game-high 18 points and added 12 rebounds while providing a key block in the final seconds as the Salem State University women's basketball team escaped with a 41-39 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) victory over Bridgewater State University on Wednesday evening at Twohig Gymnasium.
The host Vikings improve to 7-10 on the season and 3-1 in the MASCAC, while the visiting Bears fall to 4-11 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
Salem State raced out to a 17-2 lead in the first quarter, taking advantage of five Bridgewater State turnovers while shooting a blistering 61% from the field over the first seven minutes. Fernandes, who had ten first half points and eight rebounds, scored eight points during the run. Kailyn Aguiar's (Acushnet, Mass.) layup and subsequent free throw cut into the deficit for the Bears as the Vikings exited the quarter with a 17-7 lead.
Back-to-back three's by Nicole Bostick (Bridgewater, Mass.) and Sara DaSilva (Chelmsford, Mass.) to open the second drew Bridgewater State to within four points, but the Bears once again went cold from the floor, as they scored just one basket over the final 6:57 allowing Salem State to build a 28-15 halftime advantage.
Norma Waggett (Saugus, Mass.) scored all eight of her points in the first half for the Vikings, which shot 46.2% (12-26) from the field, including 16 points in the paint. DaSilva led Bridgewater State with five first-half points as the Bears converted only 6-of-26 attempts (23.1%) before haltime.
Salem State maintained a double-digit lead in the third quarter despite seven points from Bridgewater State's Chanelle Melton (Brockton, Mass.). A jumper by Katie McDonnell (Swansea, Mass.) gave Salem State its largest lead at 35-20 with 2:16 left in the third quarter before a layup by Melton and a three-pointer by DaSilva made the score 35-25. However, McDonnell answered again for Salem State, allowing the Vikings to enter the fourth with a 37-25 lead.
Salem would find a way to pull out the victory despite scoring just four points in the final period and being held scoreless over the last five minutes of the contest. A Fernandez layup with 5:10 left to play gave Salem a 41-35 lead. The Vikings then proceeded to go 0-for-4 from the floor and turn the ball over five times the rest of the way. Bridgewater, however, managed to connect on just 2 of 12 field goals over the final five minutes. After cutting the deficit to 41-39 following a Whyte driving layup with 1:46 remaining, the Bears had multiple opportunities to tie the game but missed their last four shots. Fernandez blocked an attempted putback by Kayla Carter (Beverly, Mass.) as time expired to preserve the win.
Waggett chipped in with eight points and five rebounds for the Vikings who shot 38% (18-47) for the game and committed 20 turnovers.
Melton and Whyte each finished with nine points and combined for nine rebounds for the Bears, while DaSilva added eight. Aguiar finished with six points, seven boards and a pair of steals in just 15 minutes off the bench. Bridgewater shot just 28% (16-58) from the field and finished with 17 turnovers (13 in the first half).
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams on Saturday afternoon at one. The Vikings host Westfield State University, while the Bears entertain Framingham State University.