MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Outscoring the Titans 12-6 in overtime, the No. 20 Salisbury University women's basketball team recorded its ninth victory of the season and advanced to the Sheraton Parsippany Holiday Tournament championship game on Monday with a 57-51 victory over Illinois Wesleyan University Sunday night on the campus of Montclair State University.
Senior guard Sarah Seipp recorded six of the 12 points in the extra five minutes of play, including the opening jumper and the closing two free throws to help the Gulls maintain their unblemished 9-0 record.
The Gulls started the game the way they ended it, pushing the tempo and scoring early baskets to pull a substantial lead. Forcing the early turnover on the first series for the Titans, the Sea Gulls would open the game with the first basket on a drive down the lane by senior guard Anna Hackett. IWU answered on the next possession with a quick three-pointer by Gabrielle Holness from the left corner, before Seipp would give the Gulls back the lead with a right-handed layup, 4-3, prompting the Titans to use their first timeout at the 18:14 mark.
Trading several shots, the Titans would get the score knotted again at 7-7 before the Gulls would go on a 10-point run. Senior forward Aleisha Hobbs kicked off the run with a right hook inside the paint, before senior guard Courtney McManus cashed in for a three from the top of the key on the next possession. Another layup, this time by junior forward Kathy Albornoz, and a three-pointer by sophomore guard Lauren Rothfeld, extended the lead further, prior to a three-point finish by junior forward Julia McLaughlin, pushing the score to 19-7 and forcing the Titans to use another timeout just nine minutes into the game.
Illinois Wesleyan came out of the timeout hitting the next three baskets, to get the Titans back within six, but Hackett would end the six-point run with a drive into the paint for a tough finish at the rim. The scoring would continue for SU on the next possession with Albornoz hitting a jumper in the middle to get the Gulls back out to a double-digit lead, 23-13.
In the final six minutes of the first half, both teams accumulated several points from the free-throw line (five by Salisbury, four by Illinois Wesleyan) along with a good layup by McLaughlin to send the Gulls into the break with a 30-17 lead over the Titans.
Through the first 20 minutes, SU shot 40.7 percent from the field, as seven players recorded baskets. Seipp and Hackett led the offense with seven and six points, respectively, while McManus pulled down six rebounds on the defensive front.
The Titans chipped away at the Sea Gull lead in the opening minutes of the second half, recording the first six points, before SU hit its first basket off a Hackett contested drive down the lane to get the score to 32-23.
For almost five minutes, up to the 12:17 mark, it was a defensive battle between the two squads, as neither team scored in the time span. But it was the Titans who were able to get the score even before the end of regulation after a jumper and three-pointer by Holness brought the score to 45-45 with 20 seconds remaining. After a quick two turnovers by both teams on the inbound, Seipp found herself a chance to take the game in regulation, but a long jumper from the right side missed, sending the game to overtime.
Salisbury won the tipoff to start extra time, scoring on the first series off a jumper by Seipp. Albornoz would chip in a layup of her own on the next series and the Titans answered with a three-pointer on the other end to get the score to 49-48 in Salisbury's favor, before Seipp tacked on another two points on a transition layup.
The Titans hit another from behind the arc to draw the score even one last time, 51-51, but that would be the last time Illinois Wesleyan would score, while SU put away six more points to seal the victory.
Salisbury shot 32.7 percent from the field for the game, while the Titans shot 27.4 percent. Seipp led the Gulls with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Hackett chipped in with 14 points. McLaughlin pulled down nine boards, as well, while also recording a game-high three blocks.
With the victory, the Gulls advance to the championship game against No. 8 Montclair State, which defeated Baruch College, 72-62, in the first game on Sunday. The Red Hawks are 11-0 this season. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m., on Monday, December 29.