MONTCLAIR, N.J. – In a championship battle at the Sheraton Parsippany Holiday Tournament between two unbeaten squads Monday afternoon, the No. 20 Salisbury University women's basketball team fell for the first time all season, 76-54, to No. 8 Montclair State University.
The Sea Gulls (9-1) held strong through the first three series, including a block by senior forward Melanie Mocniak, but the Red Hawks were the first to strike, driving in for a left-handed finish to take the 2-0 lead. Salisbury's first points would come right after that, as Mocniak was forced to the free throw line, hitting one-of-two.
Montclair (12-0) continued its run to start the game, 12-1, until Salisbury looked to change the momentum at the 14:36 mark, on a backdoor cut by senior guard Sarah Seipp, driving down the back for a left-handed layup off a pass from junior forward Julia McLaughlin, and drawing the foul for the three-point play.
After pulling down a rebound on the next defensive series, senior guard Anna Hackett pushed the ball up the court and was sent to the line for two free throws, both of which were finished, bringing the score to 12-6. The Gulls continued the quick tempo, after a jumper by the Red Hawks, as McLaughlin hit a jumper of her own getting SU back within six, 14-8, with 13:01 remaining in the first half.
The Red Hawks continued to hit their shots throughout the remainder of the half, taking a 42-20 lead into the break. Salisbury shot 23.1 percent from the field, led by Seipp's 11 points, while Montclair shot 44.1 percent, led by Janitza Aquino's 13 points.
The second half started out with the teams trading several baskets, keeping Montclair ahead by 24 points, but the Gulls would begin a run of their own to get back into the game, kicked off by two good free throws by Seipp. For a four-minute stretch, Salisbury went on a 13-2 run to get back within 13 points, 48-35. With both squads exchanging good shots up to the 9:32 mark, SU looked to make one more run, this time a six-point stretch, to get as close as 12 points, 57-45, but that's as close as Salisbury would get.
The Red Hawks would go on one last run of their own to seal up the game, 76-54, to be named the tournament's champion.
The Sea Gulls improved their shooting percentage from the first half to end the game with a 34.5 percentage (19-of-55), while Montclair shot 40.6 percent (28-of-69). Seipp recorded a team-high 17 points, while Hackett chipped in 11. Junior forward Kathy Albornoz led the Gulls in rebounds with eight for the day.
For her tournament efforts, Seipp earned a spot on the all-tournament team, tallying 35 points and 13 rebounds through the two contests.
Salisbury gets back into Capital Athletic Conference play for the remainder of the regular season with its next game being played in the new year against Southern Virginia University on Saturday, January 3, in Buena Vista, Virginia. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.