Men's basketball secures CAC tournament berth with 68-62 win against Wesley

Men's basketball secures CAC tournament berth with 68-62 win against Wesley

SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team locked up a spot in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday night, earning a 68-62 win against Wesley College at Maggs Physical Activities Center.

The Sea Gulls opened the contest with five quick points from Justin Witmer's moves on the low blocks and a three-pointer from the left wing out of the hands of senior Rocky Harris.

Another three, moments later, from Harris on the right wing, pushed the lead to 8-2, as Salisbury again was strong from outside, hitting 6-of-15 (40 percent) from beyond the three-point arc in the opening half.

Salisbury (17-5, 10-5 CAC) would hold the lead, and see it reach eight points on back-to-back layups, and a free throw after the second one, from sophomore Jordan Brooks with just under seven minutes to play in the frame.

A 6-0 run on three free throws from Straughn and a three-pointer from Chad Barcikowski grew the lead to its largest of the first half, 30-19, and the Gulls would take a 35-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Wolverines stayed in the game by cleaning up on the offensive glass, grabbing nine offensive rebounds which led to 12 second-chance points in the first 20 minutes.

The teams traded buckets in the opening moments of the second half, with the Wolverines getting their deficit down to four points quickly, but strong moves in the paint from senior Kyle Savercool and junior Gordon Jeter led to four points and an eight-point Salisbury advantage.

The Sea Gulls never surrendered the lead in the second half, but did not have an easy path to the victory, seeing the Wolverines (7-15, 5-10 CAC) cut their deficit to two points on three occasions in the second half.

Salisbury had an answer each time its lead dropped to one possession, turning around a 7-0 run the first time, with four points from Straughn. That nine-point lead was back to two, 51-49, with 10:25 to play, but another spurt, this time 9-4, capped by a Witmer three-pointer, had the lead back to seven with just over six minutes to play.

With 4:01 on the clock, JW Lawson hit a pair of free throws for Wesley to make it 60-58, but four Salisbury free throws built a closing cushion.

The physical game in the second half featured 27 personal fouls which did not allow either team to get in an offensive rhythm. But Salisbury would capitalize from the free-throw line in the final 20 minutes of the game, getting to the stripe 23 times and converting 78 percent of those to claim the win.

Salisbury had two players finish in double-figure scoring as Straughn and Witmer each tallied 10 points in the balanced effort with eight players scoring seven or more points.

Harris and Brooks each had nine, while Jeter scored seven to go with nine rebounds and four blocks.

The Sea Gulls hit the road for their next two games, traveling to Southern Virginia University on Saturday, February 13 for a 3 p.m. tip. With a win on Saturday, Salisbury would clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming CAC tournament, and a first-round bye.