Men's hoops rallies past Salem State, 88-73, in Big 4 Challenge opener

Men's hoops rallies past Salem State, 88-73, in Big 4 Challenge opener

MEDFORD, Mass. (courtesy Tufts University sports information) -- The Brandeis University Judges outscored Salem State College 49-30 in the second half en route to a comfortable 88-73 victory over the Vikings on Saturday afternoon in a "Big Four Challenge" semifinal game at Tufts University's Cousens Gym.

Salem State entered halftime holding the lead at 43-39 behind a terrific first-half performance from freshman guard Justin Nieves (Lawrence, MA). Nieves was a perfect four-for-four from the 3-point line in the half and tallied 15 points. He finished with a game-high 25. The Vikings led by as many as six in the half, and there were six ties as the Judges kept it close.

The Vikings were able to extend their lead in the second half to eight at 55-47 before Brandeis turned the game around. Brandeis senior forward Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) would slam one home to give the Judges their first lead of the half at 59-58. Hollins finished with 20 points for the game going nine-for-12 from the field.

The lead would bounce back and forth a few times before Brandeis went ahead for good at the 9:11 mark of the second half. The margin would balloon to as many as 19 as the Judges finished the contest on a 41-18 run which spanned the final 14 minutes.

Senior Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) led the way for the Judges with 24 points including 10 for 11 from the charity stripe. Brandeis had a total of four players in double figures as Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.) tallied 13 points with eight assists and Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) finished with 10 points. The win in the first-ever meeting between Brandeis and Salem State was the first for Brandeis head coach Brian Meehan against the squad he coached from 1996 to 2003.

Tristian Shannon (Andover, MA) was strong off the bench for the Vikings with 14 points. Both teams shot above 50 percent, with each team knocking down eight three-pointers. Brandeis used full-court pressure in the second half to help lead to 23 total turnovers for the Vikings. The Judges turned it over just 12 times.

Brandeis (6-1) will play the winner of the Tufts-Babson semifinal in the championship game of the "Big Four Challenge" on Sunday at 3 pm. Salem State (0-6) faces the loser in the consolation contest at 1 pm.