UNION, N.J. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team relinquished a late lead and fell to Kean University, 50-48, in the opening game of the Kean Classic on Friday night.
Rachel Ryan got the scoring started for the Sea Gulls (1-1) on a layup from Morgan Grubb on Salisbury's first possession of the game. The Sea Gulls pushed the lead to 8-2, 6:30 into the first quarter on field goals from four different players.
Salisbury made its presence known on the defensive end early on with three blocks in the first quarter, two from Morgan Maturani and one from Ryan. After a Maturani layup, Megan Konig knocked down a long field goal to make it a 12-4 game with just over two minutes remaining in the first. Kean (1-1) would get two points back, but the Sea Gulls led 12-6 after the first quarter.
Ryan also scored the first points of the second quarter on a short jumper in the paint. Paige Bryce connected on two free throws before Grubb scored on a fast break layup following a steal, extending the lead to 18-6 two minutes into the second quarter. The Cougars answered with two field goals before Kaylyn French pushed the lead back to double digits, 20-10.
The two teams exchanged baskets before Salisbury ended the half on a 6-2 run. Dalina Julien got on the scoresheet with a nice floater and assisted on Maturani's jumper from the foul line that beat the halftime buzzer. The Sea Gulls led the Cougars 30-17 at the break while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and holding Kean to just 30.8 percent shooting. Salisbury dominated inside, holding a 24-12 advantage in points in the paint.
A baseline jumper from Konig started the scoring in the second half, and the Sea Gulls held the Cougars off the scoreboard until the 6:19 mark of the third quarter. Konig scored the next four points for Salisbury to extend the lead to 36-19 midway through the third. Kean held Salisbury without a point the rest of the quarter and scored the final 13 points to cut the Salisbury lead to 36-32 at the end of three.
The Cougars continued their run at the start of the fourth quarter and made it a two-point deficit. Ryan put an end to the 15-0 run with a layup on a pass from Grubb 1:31 into the fourth quarter. Konig pushed the lead back to six, 40-34, on a layup, but Kean brought the game back within two shortly after. Amber Onyekwere knocked down the first three-pointer of the game for either team midway through the third to make it a 43-38 game.
After trading baskets, Kean took its first lead of the game with 1:18 left on its first three-pointer of the game, 47-45. The Cougars were able to extend their lead to five after making three of four at the foul line. Mary McDonagh kept the Sea Gulls in the game by knocking down a three-pointer with four seconds left, but Kean came up with an offensive rebound after a missed free throw to seal the game, 50-48.
Konig was the only Sea Gull in double digits, leading the team in scoring for the second straight game. She ended the game with 18 points and six rebounds.
Salisbury will play in the consolation game of the Kean Classic against Wheaton College on Saturday, November 18. The game is scheduled to start at 12 p.m.