SALISBURY, Md. – A clash between the top two teams in the Capital Athletic Conference Saturday afternoon saw the No. 19 Salisbury University women's basketball team come out victorious, 65-54, over the University of Mary Washington, as the Sea Gulls reached the 20-win mark for the season.
Finding their shot late in the first half, the Gulls (20-1, 14-0 CAC) started off slower than usual on the offensive side of the ball through the first 15 minutes of play. By the five-minute mark, trailing 22-15, SU ignited an eight-point run led by senior Anna Hackett and junior Kathy Albornoz. Hackett started the run with a jumper, before Albornoz followed up with a layup on the next series. Hackett added a layup of her own just 20 seconds later, as sophomore Lauren Rothfeld made the steal at midcourt to find her on the other end for the easy two points. Albornoz finished off the stretch with a good jumper to put the advantage back into the Sea Gulls' favor, 23-22, with 2:46 left in the half.
Taking a 28-28 score into the break, Salisbury shot 33.3 percent, led by Albornoz's nine points, while junior Julia McLaughlin pulled down six rebounds.
Coming off three-consecutive points by Albornoz to end the half, SU carried the momentum into the second half leading off with a three-pointer from senior Courtney McManus.
In a game that had 10 lead changes, Salisbury wouldn't take the advantage and run away with the game until 17 minutes left in the second half when the Gulls struck an 11-0 run started off by senior Sarah Seipp with back-to-back jump shots. Albornoz and Rothfeld hooked up for a good jumper, followed by a Seipp three-pointer, and Albornoz capping the run off with two points of her own to move the score to the first double-digit lead of the game, 44-34.
The Eagles (16-5, 12-2 CAC) cut the deficit to as much as four the rest of the game with 8:50 left, but the Gulls answered with their last lengthy run, this time seven, to push the lead back to double-digits, 61-50. Hackett totaled four of the points in the run, while McLaughlin added a jumper and Seipp cashed in on a free throw. The defense stepped up significantly in that stretch, making two steals and pulling down six defensive rebounds.
Salisbury hit its largest lead of the game with 32 seconds left, a 12-point lead, following a good free throw by senior Aleisha Hobbs.
Improving their shooting percentage in the second half to 46.9 percent, the Gulls outscored Mary Washington, 37-26, in the final 20 minutes. Led by senior Melanie Mocniak's 14 points, Salisbury had three players total double-digit points. Hackett and Albornoz chipped in for 12 and 11, respectively. McLaughlin posted a career-high day on rebounds, pulling down a game-high 12 through her 21 minutes on the court.
Hackett dished out a game-high seven assists, as she sits just two more helpers away from moving to No. 3 in program history in the category, currently held by Amy Campion (1999-2003) with 472.
With the 20th victory, the program has now posted the most wins in a single season since 2002-'03 when the Gulls totaled 23.
Salisbury heads on the road for its next contest, traveling up Route 13 to Dover, Delaware for another CAC tilt against Wesley College. The Gulls defeated the Wolverines in the first half of league play, 66-49, led by McLaughlin's 16 points. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.