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M-Basketball: Salzillo Sizzles in Opener

Sophomore nets career-high 21 as Warriors advance to tip-off final

salzillo jersey 72_9012.jpg

sulinski hands.JPGWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Sophomore guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) scored 18 of hiscareer-high 21 points in the  second half to pace the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 68-48 victory over Worcester State University Friday in the opening round of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

Above: Brian Salzillo

Eastern (1-0) will face St. Joseph's College -L.I. (1-0)  in Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game. The Golden Eagles got a combined 43 points, nine assists and eight rebounds from senior guards Chris Jimenez and Olivier Lauren to down SUNY Geneseo (0-2), 81-72, in Friday's second first-round contest. Worcester  State (0-2) meets Geneseo in Saturday third-place game at 1 p.m.

Salizillo, who had scored only 37 points in his freshman season last year, came off the bench to can six three-pointers en route to his career-high total After missing four of five shots in the first half, he was 6-for-9 from the field - 5-for-7 from three-point range - in the second half to push Eastern into the title game for the 27th time in 31 years. Eastern has won eight titles, most recently in 2009.

Salzillo scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half in a stretch of five minutes - nailing three straight three-pointers and also converting a conventional three-point play as the Warriors outscored the Lancers 19-6 to move out to an 18-point, 60-42 lead with just under five minutes left.

Senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) had 11 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals for Eastern, with senior forward Jamie Kohn (Columbia) pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.

Worcester, coming off a 70-69 opening loss to Nichols College Tuesday night, got double-doubles and a combined 27 points and 23 rebounds from  sophomore forward Robert Hunter and junior forward Monte Goodwin.  Hunter had 16 points and  a game-high 13 rebounds and Goodwin 11 points and ten rebounds.

Worcester outrebounded Eastern by nine but commited 24 turnovers and shot only 34.5 percent from the floor in the game.

St. Joseph's Advances

There were  eight ties and 19 lead changes before  St. Joseph's pulled away in the last five minutes when it held Geneseo scoreless from the field and to just one point during  a game-ending 16-1 run. The Eagles sank eight of nine free throws over the final three minutes, scoring their final six points from the stripe. In that 16-1 run, senior guard Trey Black contributed a three-point field goal and two free throws,  senior forward Steven Velazquez four consecutive free throws and Olivier an inside hoop and two freebies.

St. Joseph's was out-rebounded by 25 but outscored the Knights by 18 from three-point range in its season-opener.  The winners were 21-for-28 from the foul line in the game.

Jimenez had a game-high 22 points (five three-pointers) and added four assists and four rebounds, while Laurent had 21 points, five assists and four rebounds. Velazquez had 12 points and seven rebounds and Black ten points and eight rebounds.

Geneseo missed 12 of 14 three-point attempts in the game but got 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds from junior forward Ryan Riefenhauser and 15 points and seven rebounds from freshman forward James McKenna. Five Geneseo players had had least seven rebounds.


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