SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team used a second-half surge for an 84-56 victory over Southern Virginia University on Saturday afternoon at Maggs Physical Activities Center; the Sea Gulls outscored the Knights 43-19 in the second half.
The Sea Gulls opened the game with another quick start, building a 12-4 lead in the first four minutes of the contest. Sophomore Justin Witmer hit from long distance from the left corner to open the scoring.
Sophomore Gordon Jeter and junior Wyatt Smith went to work in the post over SU's next three possessions, as two Smith layups bookended a Jeter layup to give SU a 9-4 advantage. Both players registered assists in the plays, as they worked two-on-one matchups against the SVU defense.
Witmer capped the opening stretch with another three, hitting from the right wing.
The Knights cut the lead to five, 16-11, forcing a Salisbury timeout, but junior Rocky Harris hit a three from the right corner to push the lead back up to eight.
Southern Virginia answered with a 13-5 run to tie the score 24-24 with 8:56 left in the half, but Witmer continued his strong first half, driving left and scoring an up-and-under layup to give the Gulls back the lead. He then drained back-to-back threes to push the advantage to 33-26.
The Sea Gulls continued to hold their lead through the remainder of the half, as Smith scored on a put back and a free throw after a foul to give SU a 41-33 lead with 1:21 left in the half.
The Knights got back to within four, giving the Sea Gulls a 41-37 lead at the break. Witmer and Smith both hit double digits in the half with 18 and 15 points, respectively. The Gulls were shooting 51.6 percent from the floor in the half and 46.7 percent from long range.
Southern Virginia opened the second half with two layups to tie the score, but junior Kyle Savercool found Smith for a left-handed layup to spark a 10-0 SU run. After a layup from junior Jacoy Gillum and two free throws from Smith, senior Conor Strickland found Gillum with an outlet pass in transition for a two-handed dunk.
On the Knights' next possession, freshman Jordan Brooks forced a Southern Virginia turnover, and after Savercool gathered the ball, found Brooks on the outlet for a left-handed layup to cap the run for a 51-41 lead.
Southern Virginia would get as close as eight the rest of the way, after a layup at the 12:29 mark, but SU answered with junior Adrien Straughn driving right on the next possession for a layup, sparking a 25-5 run over the next 9:17.
Witmer added another three, giving him six in the game, and Smith threw down two dunks, including a two-handed slam off an off-the-backboard pass from Strickland during the stretch. Brooks capped the run with a fast-break one-handed slam, giving SU a 78-50 lead.
Freshman Connor Lulay scored his first collegiate points on a free throw in the final minutes, as SU went on to the victory.
Smith led all scorers with 26 points, tying his career high, while Witmer chipped in with 23. Brooks also hit double digits with 10 for his career high, while Savercool led the Gulls with seven rebounds and Strickland led with six assists.
The Sea Gulls now look forward to a conference game against Christopher Newport University, traveling to the Captains on Wednesday, February 4 for a 5:30 p.m., tip.