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M-Basketball: Warriors Maul Gulls

Salzillo fuels quick start with 23 first-half points in 75-55 victory

Box score.

salzillo_72_6643.jpgLANCASTER, Pa. --  Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) converted seven of eight three-pointers in scoring 23 first-half point off the bench and the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team limited Salisbury University to 33.3 percent field goal shooting in recording a 75-55 victory in the opening round of the Franklin & Marshall New Year's Tournament Wednesday night at the Mayser Center.

At left: Brian Salzillo

In the first meeting ever between the programs, Eastern (7-4) ended a two-game losing streak with its most lopsided victory  since the season-opener and handed Salisbury (9-4) its third straight loss after a six-game winning streak. Salisbury's last win was a 76-67 victory at Virginia Wesleyan College, the No. 1-ranked team in Division III.

Eastern moves into the tournament championship game Thursday at 7 p.m. against Franklin & Marshall College (9-1), which downed SUNY Plattsburgh (7-3), 71-55, in Wednesday's second first-round game. Franklin & Marshall, which won 28 games last year and reached the NCAA Elite Eight, is ranked eighth nationally.

Salzillo tied his career high with seven three-pointers (on ten tries) in the game,
falling one point shy of his career-high point total of 25 points. The Warriors totaled a season-high 15 three-point field, missing only eight for a season-best three-point percentage of 65.2

Eastern never trailed in the game after scoring the first seven points, an opening stretch in which Salisbury missed eight shots and turned the ball over three times on its first 11 possessions.  Eastern's bench outscored the bench of Salisbury 26-2 over the first 20 minutes and by 41-15 in the game.

Leading by 17 at halftime, the Warriors reeled off a 12-4 scoring spurt after the Sea Gulls scored the first basket of the half.  Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon), freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) tossed in consecutive three-point field goals to spark that run, with the three-pointers the only ones of the game for Ives and Preston.

Eastern  shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the fourth time in the last five games, showing a 53.3 mark as compared to just 33.3 for Salisbury.

Senior guard Travon Vann equaled his season average with 21 points for Salisbury.

Garrow followed Salzillo with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) sinking all four of his field goal tries (three from three-point range) and adding 11 points off the bench. Ives was 7-for-7 from the foul line and contributed ten points while sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) led the Warriors with nine rebounds. Hundley has made good on his last four three point field goals after beginning the season 3-for-22 from long distance.

Salzillo's remarkable first half performance mirrored the one on December 4, when he scored 22 first-half points off the bench with the help of 6-for-7 three-point shooting on the way to a career-high 26 points in a 78-74 road win over New Paltz.

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