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  • Writer's pictureELLIOT POTOTSKY

Women’s basketball beats Vikings at home

The women’s basketball team came away with a victory Saturday afternoon at the Athletic Center as they handed the Salem State Vikings their first loss of the season, defeating them 64-51.

The Vikings came out of the gates early, forcing a turnover that turned into a fast-break lay-up followed by a Laser timeout. Out of the timeout, the Lasers gained their footing and got on the board thanks to a three-pointer that put the Lasers within a few points. For the remainder of the quarter, the Lasers showed good intensity, as they out-rebounded the Vikings and made them commit four team fouls. Still, the Lasers trailed 17-14 entering the second quarter.

The Lasers played some of their best basketball from the second quarter until the end of the game. Despite a cold spell at the beginning of the quarter, the Laser went on a 10-0 run to end the half which featured excellent ball movement, several hustle plays, and overall great execution by the team.

Individually, two Lasers contributed to a couple of highlight plays during the run. Sophomore forward Laura Johnson was everywhere on the court and swished a jumper to earn her sixth point of the half. First-year guard Erica Lendall, the team's primary ball-handler, made a great move in which she spun around a defender, came to a stop, and pivoted to make an off-balance lay-up. Lendall also made the final play of the half where with 15 seconds left, she got through two defenders and dished it to first-year forward Hailey Johnson who made the lay-up right before the buzzer sounded to put her team up 32-23.

During the third quarter, the Vikings went on a 4-0 run to start things off. A quick Laser three, however, stopped any potential momentum that Salem State was gaining. To make matters worse for the Vikings, graduate guard Brooke Damboise and sophomore guard Kiara Cerutti made back-to-back threes, giving the Lasers a 13-point lead.

Fortunately for the Vikings, another 4-0 run put them back within arms-reach of the Lasers, as they struggled to box out their counterpart. After a defensive stop by the Vikings, the Lasers found themselves in a position to expand their lead. An in-bound play set up a Laura Johnson basket putting the Lasers up 44-33.

As the fourth quarter got underway, both teams struggled initially, but it was the Lasers who drew first blood, as Lendall made a great pass to junior forward Mia Sullivan-Sanders for two points. Moments later, Cerutti hit a jumper, adding to an already impressive day.

With under 6:30 to go, the Vikings refused to go away. A basket plus the foul put them within seven. First-year guard Blaize Mack came to the rescue for the Lasers, who hit a three-pointer from the corner, putting the Lasers back up ten points. The Vikings had no option but to use a timeout and make one last push to steal a win away from the Lasers.

Out of the break, the Vikings had a put-back basket, which was followed by a successful Cerutti jumper and another answer by the Vikings. Not wanting to take any chances, Head Coach Kelley Sundberg called a timeout to allow the Lasers to catch their breath.

When the two teams took the floor one last time, it was Laura Johnson banking in a shot near the free-throw line and earning her twelfth point as she got a floater to go over her defender minutes later. The true dagger, however, fell into the hands of sophomore guard Shirle Major, who dribbled to her right, faded away, and banked in the shot with under three minutes to go. That bucket gave Major her thirteenth point of the game, just shy of the Lasers’ team leader in points that game, Cerutti, who finished with sixteen.

The women’s basketball team, now 2-2, will head into the city on Tuesday, Nov. 21, and take on the UMass Boston Beacons at 5 p.m.


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