FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - On a night when No. 6 University of Mary Washington unfurled its 2006-07 NCAA Division III Final Four banner the Eagles, 31-3 a season ago, picked up where they left off and beat Salisbury University, 97-54, in the Capital Athletic Conference women's basketball opener for both teams.
The 43-point loss is the largest margin of victory by a Sea Gull opponent in 16 years when Rowan defeated Salisbury, 106-59, on January 7, 1992.
The Eagles (4-0, 1-0 CAC) had five players score double figures in their home opener led by junior forward Ashton Mitchell, who scored 21 points and made nine rebounds. UMW is ranked No. 6 in the coaches' poll but is ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com media poll.
Salisbury (1-4, 0-1 CAC) traded baskets with Mary Washington in the first two minutes of play before the Eagles went on a 26-6 run in nine minutes to take a 27-12 lead midway through the opening half. UMW went into halftime up 51-24.
The Sea Gulls were lead by junior guard Monica Merkel's 18 points. Senior guard Meghan Phillips came off the bench to score eight and make a team-high five rebounds.
UMW shot 55 percent from the floor and outscored Salisbury 42-16 in the paint. UMW All-American center Liz Hickey scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots. SU shot 36 percent from the field and made 21 turnovers.
SU will host the Optimist Classic this Friday and Saturday at the Maggs Center. The Sea Gulls will play Shenandoah University on Friday night at 6 p.m. Allegheny College will play No. 5 Messiah College in the first game of the afternoon at 1 p.m. The winners of Friday's games will play in the championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. The consolation game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.