Sea Gulls down Eagles 71-60 behind Witmer's 24 points

Sea Gulls down Eagles 71-60 behind Witmer's 24 points

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - The Salisbury University men's basketball team moved to 3-2 in the Capital Athletic Conference with a 71-60 victory over the University of Mary Washington on Wednesday night at the William M. Anderson Center, the final game of a four-game road trip.

Sophomore Justin Witmer hit a three-point shot from the right wing to get the game started and give the Sea Gulls a quick 3-0 lead. The Eagles came back to tie the game an eventually take a 9-5 lead, beginning a half of back-and-forth play between the teams.

Salisbury retook the lead after back-to-back threes from juniors Adrien Straughn and Kyle Savercool. Straughn hit from the top of the key, before Savercool drained his shot from the left wing, giving the Gulls an 11-9 advantage.

Another long-range shot from Straughn put the Sea Gulls up 14-11, but a 4-0 stretch regained the lead for Mary Washington, 15-14, with 10 minutes left in the first half. 

The lead traded hands two more times over the next six minutes, and with 4:34 left in the half, UMW held a 24-21 lead.

Junior Ryan Miller banked in a hook shot from the left side of the key to get the Gulls to within one, and junior Wyatt Smith followed with a layup to retake the lead for SU, 25-24, this time for good. The shots sparked a 10-0 run in Salisbury's favor in the final minutes.

Junior Rocky Harris nailed a three from the right wing, and Witmer added another long-distance shot to cap the run and give the Sea Gulls a 31-24 lead heading into the break.

At the half, Salisbury was leading the rebounding 21-15 and the assists 9-4. Witmer notched nine points at the break to lead the team, while pacing the team with 24 points on the night.

Witmer continued his hot hand into the second half, hitting four long-range shots in the first five minutes of the period, helping the Gulls build a 16-point lead.

He opened the half with a three to give Salisbury its first double-digit lead of the game, 34-24. After Mary Washington answered with a three of its own, Smith followed with a layup, before Witmer would hit from long-range from the left wing, again giving SU a double-figure advantage.

After another Smith layup and Witmer's next two three-pointers, the Gulls pushed their advantage to 47-31; the lead was SU's largest of the game.

Salisbury continued to hold a double-digit lead over the next five minutes, and with 10:23 left in the game, Witmer drove down the middle for a layup and a 55-40 lead.

A 13-5 stretch by the Eagles cut the Gulls' lead down to seven with just over five minutes remaining. Mary Washington continued its late surge to cut the lead to four, 64-60, but senior Conor Strickland answered with a three from the left wing to rebuild a seven-point advantage.

Strickland and Straughn each made two free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

Straughn and Miller both hit double digits with 10 points, each, while Straughn led the team with eight rebounds. Savercool and Harris both dished out four assists to tie for the team best.

The Sea Gulls return home on Saturday, January 10 to host York College of Pennsylvania for their first contest of 2015 at Maggs Physical Activities Center; the opening tip is set for 4 p.m. 

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