SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team picked up a 91-89 overtime victory on Sunday afternoon against Wesley College to get out to the best start in program history, winning its ninth straight game to open the year.
The battle of former Capital Athletic Conference opponents was narrow throughout with neither team's lead reaching double figures.
After the third tie of the opening half, Wesley (4-5) took the lead on a Brian Cameron three-pointer. The Wolverine lead held until the closing moments of the half.
James Foley connected on a layup with 2:46 left to tie the game, but Salisbury (9-0) could not take the lead until three-pointers on successive possessions in the final two minutes of play. Johnny Fierstein got the first off good ball movement and an open look in the left corner before Blair Davis pulled up on the left wing for a 41-38 lead.
Salisbury's strong shooting from beyond the arc allowed the Sea Gulls to thrive at halftime, hitting over 50 percent (7-of-13) from outside in the first 20 minutes, including three by Gary Briddell on three tries, which gave him a team-high 11 points at the break.
Wesley used three-pointers to put together an 11-0 run and take a 51-44 lead five minutes into the second half, but the Sea Gulls battled back, led by Mike Ward, who scored seven of nine points over a two-minute stretch.
The game remained tight, but the Wolverines held the lead until the final minutes of regulation.
A pair of Fierstein free throws cut the Sea Gull deficit to a point, 74-73, with under three minutes to play before the Salisbury defense got a turnover and Ward's runner off the glass gave the home team a 75-74 lead with just over two minutes to play.
After Wesley held the lead again, Fierstein hit a contested layup to cut the lead to one with 40 seconds left, then connected on a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to tie the game, 80-80, forcing overtime.
In the extra session, the lead changed hands four times, with the final one going in Salisbury's direction when Briddell was left wide open in the left corner and drilled a three-pointer with 12 seconds to play for a 91-89 lead.
The Wolverines had one last chance, but a three-point try by Evan Anderson at the buzzer was blocked by Briddell, and gathered in by Ward to seal the win.
Five Sea Gulls finished in double figures in scoring, including three players off the bench. Briddell and Fierstein each finished with 18 and seven rebounds while Ward scored 17 and Lucas Martin had 10 points and five rebounds with Davis scoring 10 points and dishing out three assists.
The Sea Gulls return to action on Saturday, December 22, traveling to Rowan University for a contest scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Salisbury will not be home again until January 5, hosting Penn State University-Harrisburg.