AMHERST, Mass. – Overcoming a seven-point deficit and regaining the lead through a 16-0 run late in the first half, Amherst men's basketball cruised past non-conference opponent Salem State in the Mammoths' final tune-up on Wednesday night at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Coming from behind and outscoring the Vikings 53-34 in the first half, Amherst improves to 13-6 while Salem State drop their second consecutive game and move to 2-17 overall.
Leading the Mammoths with a team-high 16 points, Garrett Day '21 shot 4-9 from the floor with four assists, including a perfect 5-5 from the line, while Josh Chery '20, Dan Schlakman '23, and Fru Che '21 added 12 points apiece. Chery and Schlakman owned the boards with seven, respectively.
The Vikings led 25-18 at the 9:47 mark before the Mammoths rattled off a pivotal 16-0 run, led by Schlakman who kicked off proceedings with back-to-back layups before Day netted a pair of three-pointers.
Scoring on consecutive possessions for the Mammoths, Che increased their lead to 17 before Schlakman's layup with 10 seconds on the clock gave the home side their largest advantage heading into the break.
Amherst entered halftime shooting 47.1% (8-17) from downtown and 54.1% from the field, while Che led all scorers with 12 points on 5-7 (71.4%) shooting, lending five rebounds. With three made shots from beyond the arc, Day fell right behind Che with 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Salem State was shooting 42.4% from the field and was 4-9 from downtown with Hakeem Animashaun leading the visitors with nine points and five boards.
Corralling an offensive rebound, Animashaun went right back up with it but he was met by a thunderous swat from Tim McCarthy '21 that sent the ball back to the three-point line.
A couple minutes later, the ball was being knocked around following a layup from Jack Harlan '21 and eventually ended up in the hands of Will Phelan '22 at half court. With a clear lane to the basket, Phelan raced down the middle and threw down a booming two-handed slam to put the Mammoths up 14 at the 15:23 mark.
The Vikings couldn't break down the Mammoths' defense and put together a significant run down the stretch, ending the game shooting 43.9% from the field to the Mammoths 46.1%.
With 39 bench points, Amherst tallied 28 points off turnovers and 23 second chance points. Phelan filled the stat sheet with six rebounds, four assists, and two blocks while Devonn Allen '22 added nine points, four rebounds, two dimes, and two thefts.
Animashaun shot 6-10 from around the rim for a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds, while Justin Ciaglo recorded 10 points off the bench. Alex De La Rosa led Salem State with a team-high four assists.
Concluding their non-conference matchups, Amherst will look ahead to Wesleyan (Conn.) for their next competition on Jan. 31st at 7:00 p.m. The Vikings return to conference play as well with a meeting against Fitchburg State on Saturday.