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M-Basketball: Salzillo Vaults Warriors

Off the bench, he scores 22 first-half points, including team's final 16

salzillo_726850.jpgNEW PALTZ, N.Y. - Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) began their careers as instrumental players off the bench.

At left: Brian Salzillo

Tuesday night in a non-conference game against SUNY at New Paltz, those two veteran players returned to that role -- at least for one night -- combining for 44 points on 14-for-26 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds in a 78-74 victory at the Hawk Center.

Salzillo sparked Eastern (4-2)  to a 42-point first half by scoring 22 -- hitting his final eight shots from the floor (including all six of his three-point tries) and scoring the team's final 16 points over the final eight minutes. In a starting role,  junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) contributed 12 first-half points and Robitaille added six points, the trio combining for all but two of the team's first half points as the Warriors rolled to a 14-point halftime lead.

The Warriors, who won their fourth straight over New Paltz (3-4), never trailed in the second half. After  the hosts chipped away and pulled to within one with eight minutes left, Eastern appeared to have the game in hand when a run of seven straight points - five from Robitaille - gave it an eight-point edge with 5:30 left, but it took two free throws from Garrow and two from Salzillo inside the final 38 seconds to secure the victory. 

Behind Salzillo and Garrow, Eastern  was 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from distance in the first 20 minutes of play. New Paltz scored the first six points of the game, and it took Salzillo's first three-pointer to send the Warriors into their first lead, with just over eight minutes left. Eastern would trail only once the rest of the way.

Salzillo scored a career-high 26 points--18 coming off three-pointers--coming off the bench, while his teammate Robitaille added 18 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Garrow added 17 points and five assists and combined with Robitaille to sink 13 of 16 free throws. Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) collected six assists, and in his first career start, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) chipped in four assists and had only one turnover in 21 minutes.

Senior Shereef Taylor  led the Hawks with a game-high 27 points off 10-of-16 shooting, including a 5-of-9 mark from long range. Senior Matt Devine chipped in 18 points, while senior Shalik Jenkins added 15.

Eastern hosts Nichols College Thursday at 7 p.m

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