SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team kicked off its 2014-15 season and this weekend's Optimist Tournament on Saturday afternoon with a 78-72 victory over Bryn Athyn College at Maggs Physical Activities Center.
The Sea Gulls were led by a balanced offensive attack that saw four players reach double figures in points, as junior Kyle Savercool netted a game-high 21.
Savercool got SU going with a three-point shot 50 seconds into the first half for a 3-0 lead. He tallied eight points to power an opening 18-8 run, capping the stretch with another three-pointer.
The Lions rallied to cut the lead to 22-18, but freshman Jordan Brooks halted the Bryn Athyn spurt with a jumper for his first collegiate points. A jumper and a layup from sophomore Gordon Jeter pushed the lead back to double digits, before a three from senior Conor Strickland gave SU its largest advantage of the first half, 32-18, with 5:32 left.
Junior Justin May hit a three for his first points as a Sea Gull in the final minutes of the half, but Bryn Athyn whittled away at the Sea Gulls lead, cutting it to 42-36, before a jumper from sophomore Justin Witmer gave Salisbury an eight-point edge at halftime. Witmer finished second on the team with 16 points, while adding a team-high eight rebounds.
At the break, SU was shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and 50 percent from behind the arc, while leading the rebounding 14-11.
Five quick points for the Lions to start the second half cut the SU lead to three, but Jeter and Savercool combined for three-straight layups, followed by another Strickland three to regain a double-figure lead, 53-41.
The Sea Gulls continued to hold their lead through the second half, never relinquishing it to Bryn Athyn. The closest the Lions would get was within four points with 4:23 left in the game, but Savercool hit a jumper and the free throw after being fouled to make the score 74-67 with less than four minutes to go.
The Lions got within four again two more times, but Strickland drained two free throws with 14 seconds left to put the game out of reach for the win.
Jeter and Strickland scored 12 points, each, while Witmer, junior Rocky Harris, and sophomore Charles Porter tied for a team-high three assists, and Brooks ended the game with six points and seven boards in his debut for SU.
With the win, Salisbury advances to the tournament championship game on Sunday; the Gulls will take on No. 14 Dickinson College at Maggs PAC. The opening tip is set for 5 p.m.