Men's basketball falls in Optimist Classic opener

Men's basketball falls in Optimist Classic opener

SALISBURY, Md. – Sophomore guard Tim Harwood nearly doubled his previous career-high in points, scoring 22 on Friday night in Salisbury University's opening game of the 2011 Optimist Classic, but it was not enough as the Sea Gulls fell in men's basketball action to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 76-73, at Maggs Physical Activities Center.

Harwood was 8-for-11 from the floor in the game and nearly drained a shot from midcourt, as the final horn sounded, which would have sent the game to overtime.

Salisbury (4-2), ranked No. 20 in the D3hoops.com poll, opened the game on a 7-2 run, thanks to three-pointers from Harwood and senior Mike Maczko. The Sea Gulls held the lead for the first six minutes until Jerome Alexander hit a jumper to give John Jay its first lead of the game, 11-10.

Alexander's bucket sparked an 8-3 run as the Bloodhounds would lead for the remainder of the first half, taking a 41-36 lead into the break. Salisbury struggled to contain Alexander, who scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the first half.

Salisbury battled back early in the second half, putting together an 11-3 run with junior center Trent Epps scoring four points early in the run and Harwood capping things off with an old-fashion three-point play to give the Gulls a 50-46 lead.

The lead traded hands numerous times in the second half and nine times in the game, with John Jay's Isaiah Holman putting home a three-pointer at the 4:35 mark for the final lead change of the night.

Senior Mike Atkins connected on two free throws with 13 seconds remaining in the game, pulling Salisbury to within one, 74-73. The Sea Gulls sent John Jay to the line on two different occasions in the closing 10 seconds, with the Bloodhounds making just two-of-four tries. Salisbury inbounded the ball with 1.6 seconds remaining down by three; Harwood got in a quick dribble before putting up a heave from midcourt, which missed off the left side of the rim.

Harwood was 4-of-5 on three-point tries with a pair of assists to go with his 22 points. He was one of four Sea Gulls in double figures as Maczko and Atkins each scored 15 in the game. Maczko had a double-double with 10 rebounds and Epps finished with 13 points and nine boards.

Alexander had four rebounds and five assists to go with his 29 points while Jamar Harry added 17 for the Bloodhounds.

Salisbury will play in the consolation game of the 17th annual Optimist Classic on Saturday, Dec. 3, taking on Pennsylvania State University-Abington at 4 p.m. Abington fell earlier Friday to Medgar Evers College, 82-67. Medgar Evers and John Jay will play for the title at 6 p.m.

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