VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team collected a 68-60 win on Tuesday night at No. 16 Virginia Wesleyan.
The Sea Gulls (4-0) grabbed the early lead with senior Justin Witmer hitting a pair of free throws and a three-pointer in the game's first four minutes, as the Marlins (3-1) began the night 0-for-5 from the floor.
A three-pointer from Adrien Straughn, at the midway point of the half, pushed Salisbury's lead to double figures for the first time in the contest, 15-5. The lead dipped back to single digits before a Chad Barcikowski layup with 2:15 left in the first half got it back to 10, with a 29-19 score, and it would be the final lead of that size for either team in the game.
Salisbury maintained a 33-25 lead at halftime, getting eight points from Witmer in the opening 20 minutes of play and five points each from Smith, Straughn and Barry Bratten.
The lead quickly diminished in the second half with the Marlins opening the second period on a 12-0 run to take their first lead of the night. The lead stayed with the home team for the next five minutes, but a layup from Smith and a jumper from Terray Quickley put the lead back on Salisbury's side -- one of five lead changes over the next six minutes.
It was a four-point possession from Smith that gave Salisbury the lead for good with six minutes left in the game. After Witmer came up with a block and the rebound, he set off the Salisbury break. The ball made its way forward to freshman Al Leder, who found Smith for the layup, and he was fouled on the play. Smith would fail to convert the free throw, but the rebound caromed near the free throw line, where he grabbed the ball and cut toward the basket for another layup and a 55-53 lead.
The edge grew to as many as nine in the closing minutes, and Salisbury held on for the win as the Sea Gulls limited Virginia Wesleyan to 1-of-6 shooting from the floor over the final 3:30 of the game.
Smith, with his second double-double of the year, finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds while Witmer had a team-high 14 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Barcikowski put in 11 as the third Sea Gull in double figures and pulled down eight boards.
The Sea Gulls return to action after the Thanksgiving break, hosting St. Mary's College of Maryland on Wednesday, November 30 in the Capital Athletic Conference opener for both teams. That game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.