BUENA VISTA, Va. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team locked up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Capital Athletic Conference tournament with a 75-57 victory at Southern Virginia University on Saturday afternoon.
Salisbury will get a first-round bye in the opening round of the tournament and will host a CAC semifinal contest at Maggs Physical Activities Center on Thursday, Feb. 25 against the winner from the opening-round contest between the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds.
Strong defense by the Sea Gulls (18-5, 11-5 CAC), a theme for the entire season, ruled the day. From the opening possession when Salisbury forced the Knights to scramble near the end the shot clock, to the final minutes of the game when the Knight's turned it over on their final possession. Salisbury forced a season-high 29 turnovers in the victory.
The teams went scoreless through the first two-plus minutes before Kevin Walker connected for three from the right corner for the Knights, but Salisbury would come back, putting together a 13-2 run which was started by junior Justin Witmer's drive down the right side for an easy two.
The full-court pressure caused problems for Southern Virginia throughout the contest.
Aggressive defense from the Knights put Salisbury in the bonus early, less than seven minutes into the contest, and the Gulls took advantage of 14 free-throw tries in the first half, seeing the first half lead open up to 13 points on Jeter's slam with 2:30 left and holding a 38-24 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, Salisbury found the same success at the free-throw line, with Jeter getting there just 14 seconds into the period, and connecting on both, pushing the lead to 16 points.
The Knights scored four quick points, bringing up a Salisbury timeout, but the Sea Gulls protected their advantage, not allowing Southern Virginia to get the lead down to single digits.
Four free throws and a layup from sophomore Jordan Brooks ballooned the lead to 46-28, and after a Southern Virginia bucket, Salisbury pushed its lead to the largest of the day.
The advantage held near 20 points for the remainder of the game, not dipping below 15 the rest of the way.
The victory came with the Sea Gulls scoring 33 of their points from outside. Salisbury entered the contest shooting over 35 percent from the beyond the arc, and were able to make 11-of-32 (34 percent) in Saturday's contest.
It turned out to be the stout defense that led from beginning to end, with Salisbury scoring 31 points off turnovers.
Brooks and May led the Salisbury scoring with 14 points each off the bench, with May also grabbing five rebounds. Jeter scored 13 points, to go with five rebounds and three steals. Harris and Straughn were each credited with five steals in the game.
The Sea Gulls return to action on Wednesday, February 17 traveling to Marymount (Va.) University for an 8 p.m., contest.