SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team hosted Virginia Wesleyan University on Tuesday night. The Sea Gulls dropped a tough 80-77 decision to the visiting Marlins.
The first half opened up as a defensive contest with neither team able to find any offensive rhythm in the opening three minutes. Two early Virginia Wesleyan (3-0) threhee-pointers built a 6-1 advantage for the Marlins before Blair Davis netted the Gulls' first basket of the night. Davis drove down the left side of the lane, drawing contact at the rim for t and-one finish, cutting the deficit to 6-3.
An 8-4 Sea Gull (2-1) run gave them the lead at 11-10, but the Marlins quickly responded with a run of their own, knocking down two quick baskets to regain the advantage at 17-11. Two free-throws from James Foley broke the 6-0 scoring run by Virginia Wesleyan, but it was short-lived as Corey White Jr. knocked down his first, and the team's fourth, three-pointer of the contest to bring the score line to 22-13.
Foley broke a near two-minute scoring draught for the maroon and gold with the team's first three-pointer of the contest to cut the Marlins lead to just six, 24-18. Davis knocked down two free-throws with just under six minutes left to play in the first half to bring Salisbury back within a possession, 24-21, for the first time since it was 13-11 at the 12:12 mark.
Johnson Ogunyoye tallied his first basket of the contest with 4:31 left in first half, grabbing an offensive rebound and drawing contact off a contested finish underneath to pull the Gulls within four. Braedon Dorsey knocked down his first three-pointer of the contest on the next offensive possession to pull Salisbury within one, 27-26.
Bryce Thurston gave the Sea Gulls the lead grabbing an Al Leder miss and finishing strong at the rim for the 28-27 lead. It was the team's first lead since leading 11-10 at the 12:21 mark of the half.
At the break Virginia Wesleyan held a slim 34-30 lead over Salisbury behind a stellar 11-of-22 (50.0%) from the field while shooting 4-of-7 (57.1%) from behind the arc. The Sea Gulls pulled down 21 rebounds and committed only eight turnovers while the Marlins totaled 12.
The second half opened with a showing of offense as both teams combined for 16 points in the opening six-and-a half minutes of action. Leder and Barcikowski knocked down back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to pull within three, 46-43, with 12:43 left to play in the game.
Ogunyoye drew contact again down low off a Leder miss to earn one-and-one free-throws and knocked down both to pull the Gulls within four. However, quick transition by the Marlins beat the Salisbury press and pushed the lead back to six, 51-45, with just over 11 minutes left to play.
Barcikowski got Salisbury back in the game driving left down the side of the lane, finishing strong at the hoop and drawing contact to earn the and-one opportunity. He converted the free-throw attempt to pull the maroon and gold within five, 55-50.
Lucas Martin cut the deficit to just four with 8:37 left to play finding himself all alone in the paint, finishing the pass from Davis to make it 56-52. Davis created another scoring chance on the very next offensive trip, drawing contact at the rim to earn a pair of three-throws. He was able to convert one of the opportunities to make it a one possession game.
However, Virginia Wesleyan answered with a 6-0 run of its own to push the lead to 62-53 with 5:32 left to play in the game.
Barcikowski trimmed the Marlins lead to five, 64-59 with just over three-minutes left to play with his third three-pointer of the contest. Leder managed to knock down one of two free-throws the next trip down to make if a four-point game with 2:45 left to play.
Salisbury didn't go away quietly as Leder managed to pull the Gulls within three knocking down a clutch three-pointer, his fourth of the contest, to make it 72-69 with 37 seconds left to play. Jack Ferguson got in on the action one possession later, nailing his first-three-pointer of the contest to make it a two-point game, 74-72 with 20 seconds left to play.
However, it was not meant to be as Virginia Wesleyan's Lamont Steward grabbed a missed three-point attempt and hit both free-throws to seal the 80-77 win.
The Sea Gulls finished the evening shooting 23-of-62 (37.1%) from the field while the Marlins were 23-of-43 (53.5%). Salisbury pulled down 34 rebounds while Virginia Wesleyan recorded 43 and the maroon and gold managed to force 22 Marlins turnovers to their 15. Three Sea Gulls posted double-digit nights with Leder scoring a team-high 16 points, while Barcikowski and Ogunyoye netted 15 and 12, respectively.
Salisbury returns to action on Wednesday, November 29 when it opens Capital Athletic Conference play on the road at No. 14 Christopher Newport University. The game will be a rematch of last season's CAC championship with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.