Witmer leads second-half surge as Gulls down Lions

Witmer leads second-half surge as Gulls down Lions

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team erupted in the second half to earn a 69-43 victory over Capital Athletic Conference-foe Penn State University-Harrisburg on the road on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions found the basket first, taking a 2-0 lead with a pair of free throws, but junior Wyatt Smith answered with a layup on the Gulls' first possession on an assist from senior Conor Strickland to tie the game.

After another layup from Smith on an offensive-rebound put back plus a free throw on a foul, sophomore Justin Witmer drove right for a layup to give SU a 7-4 lead three minutes into the first half.

PSU took control over the next 12 minutes of the half, using a 13-5 run to take a 17-12 lead with just over five minutes left in the half; however, junior Rocky Harris drained a three from the right corner to get the Gulls back to within two and spark a 15-9 run that allowed the Gulls to take the lead before the break.

Junior Adrien Straughn followed with a three from the left wing to put SU back in the lead for the first time since the 16:58 mark, 18-17.

The Lions regained the lead 23-20 with 1:56 left before halftime, but another Witmer layup, followed by a second long-range shot from Harris flipped the score again. Witmer added another bucket, allowing SU to take a 27-26 lead into halftime.

At the break, Smith led the team with nine points, while SU led the rebounding margin 15-11 and was shooting over 43 percent from the floor.

Witmer opened the second period with a three, his first of the game, to push SU's lead to four, and two Smith layups helped the Gulls keep the lead and increase it to six, 36-30.

Over the next 6:11 of play, Salisbury's offense would catch fire, opening up a 15-1 run to take a commanding 22-point lead. Witmer hit a layup to start the stretch, as he netted 10 points in the span; he finished the night with a game-high 23 points.

After a Witmer foul shot, junior Kyle Savercool and Witmer hit back-to-back threes to push the advantage to 45-31. A dunk from junior Jacoy Gillum and layups from Savercool and Witmer capped the run to give the Gulls a 53-31 lead with 8:36 to go.

The Lions would get as close as 15 the rest of the way, but Salisbury continued to hold its lead and built it to as large as 29 after a free throw from freshman Jordan Brooks. Salisbury came to life in the second half, scoring 42 points, while the SU defense clamped down and held PSU to only 17 in the frame; SU shot 66.7 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from three in the half.

Two other Gulls hit double figures, as Smith netted 13 and Harris scored 11; Smith also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, while Strickland and Witmer tied for a team-best three assists.

Salisbury returns home for its next contest, welcoming St. Mary's College of Maryland on Wednesday, January 27 for a CAC clash. The Sea Gulls will look to avenge an earlier-season loss to St. Mary's with a 7:30 p.m., tip.

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