SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team earned a key non-conference victory on Wednesday night at Maggs Physical Activities Center, topping Catholic University of America, 64-59.
The Sea Gulls (6-1) were paced in the game by senior Lauren Rothfeld, who came up with her third career double-double. Rothfeld finished with a career-high 24 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
Four points from junior Josephine Noonan led Salisbury to a game-opening 12-3 run for the early lead, and the Sea Gulls maintained the advantage into the second half.
Layups from Rothfeld and junior Mary McDonagh pushed the Sea Gull lead to 18-6 with two minutes to play in the first quarter, as the Salisbury defense held the Cardinals (6-1) to 2-for-11 shooting from the floor to begin the game. Salisbury entered the night with the 10th-best shooting defense in the nation, allowing opponents to shoot just 29.2 percent from the floor and the defense improved on that number as Catholic finished with a 26.5 mark from the field in the game.
Catholic cut the lead to eight points at the end of the opening quarter, 24-16, and in the second made a run in the middle of the quarter, scoring 10-straight points, to cut the deficit to 28-27 at the midway point of the period.
Rothfeld hit a pair free throws to retain the lead and a three-pointer from Megan Konig pushed it back to four points. Two more Rothfield buckets in the closing two and a half minutes, and one from Paige Bryce, gave Salisbury a 39-31 lead at the break.
Catholic got all of its scoring from four players in the first half, led by Bernadette Launi's 15 points and nine from Michelle DeSantis, while Rothfeld had also scored 15 at halftime.
Salisbury held the lead throughout the third quarter, with Noonan scoring five of Salisbury's first dozen points after halftime.
In the second half, Salisbury took away Launi, who scored just one point in the final 20 minutes, but the Cardinals got 10 second-half points from DeSantis, who hit twice from outside the arc. Her jumper with 6:42 left in the contest tied the game at 51-51, the first tie of the night since 2-2, and a Payton Smith layup just over two minutes later gave Catholic its first lead of the game.
But Salisbury, which trailed by three with just three minutes to play after a DeSantis three, would not go quietly. Bryce crashed the offensive glass, getting the second-chance points on a layup, cutting the lead to 56-55.
Bryce had nine rebounds in the game as Salisbury held a decisive edge on the boards, outrebounding the Cardinals 50-38, and the Sea Gulls turned their 15 offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.
After a Noonan defensive rebound, Salisbury worked inside-out with Bryce kicking out to McDonagh on the right wing, burying a three-pointer to retake the lead, 58-56 with less than two minutes to play and Salisbury won the game from the free-throw line.
Rothfeld hit four from the charity stripe and Morgan Grubb hit two to seal the victory.
McDonagh finished with a dozen points and four assists, while Noonan scored nine and grabbed eight rebounds.
The Sea Gulls hit the road on Saturday, getting back into Capital Athletic Conference action, traveling to Southern Virginia University for a contest scheduled to tip at 1 p.m.