(via Salem Athletics)
A last-second block in overtime from senior Christopher Shields gave the Salem University men's basketball team a 76-75 win over West Virginia Wesleyan, Wednesday night at lively T. Edward Davis Gymnasium.
With the win, the Tigers improve to 8-4, while Wesleyan drops to 4-5.
The Tigers posted a solid shooting performance as they hit 50 percent of their shots in the contest (30-60) and knocked down 41.7 percent of their threes (10-24), while the Bobcats shot 44.1 from the field (26-59) and hit 17 threes for 45.9 percent.
Salem's bench netted 23 points, while Wesleyans bench was held to just one point in the contest. The Tigers also dominated the paint, scoring 34 points to Wesleyans 19.
Senior Malik Toppin and classmate Kanayo Obi-Rapu combined for 46 points to lead the way as Toppin recorded a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, while Obi-Rapu recorded 21 points, nine rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked two shots.
Freshman Fonz Hale was the only other Tiger in double figures as he connected on four deep threes good for 12 points, while Shields played impressive defense down the stretch as he generated a few key steals and two key blocks.
In the first half, Salem trailed by 15 as Wesleyan went on a 17-2 run with 10:47 left in the half after a made three-pointer from the Bobcats.
The Tigers chipped into the lead as they trailed by eight, 40-32 at the break.
Early in the second half, Salem quickly fell behind by 16 after a made three-pointer from the bobcat's Luka Petrovic with 15:22 remaining in regulation. Two minutes later, the Bobcats regained a 16 point lead but from here the Tigers proceeded with a 16-4 run after a layup from Toppin at 6:39 to cut the lead to 65-61.
Obi-Rapu connected on a key shot from behind the arc from Hale with 4:01 left in regulation to bring the Tigers within one, 67-66. Toppin gave Salem its first lead of the contest at 2:01 in the second half after making a pair of shots from the charity stripe for a 68-67 Salem advantage.
Wesleyan's Clay Todd knocked down a three with one minute remaining in the second half for a 70-68 lead, but Toppin quickly found the paint and laid the ball in for a 70-70 tie.
In overtime, Toppin connected on a layup with 4:49 left in the game from Shields for a 72-70 lead. With 2:16 remaining, Hale drove the lane and tossed a beautiful lob to Toppin for the powerful slam and a 76-72 lead.
Wesleyan's Dusan Vicentic connected with a three at 1:36 in overtime, but the Bobcat's Todd drove the lane with a few seconds remaining and attempted a layup that was sent away by Shields to secure the bag.
The Tiger take the court this Saturday at home as they host Slippery Rock at 4:00 p.m.