BY DIAMOND HOLTON
Five players scored in double digits as the Salisbury University women’s basketball team became the Optimist Tournament champions with a 70-52 win over Marywood University.
Dominance in the paint from sophomore Josephine Noonan and another career double-double from junior Lauren Rothfeld gave the Sea Gulls (3-0) the advantage they needed over the Pacers. Noonan recorded 13 points with seven rebounds, while Rothfeld added 12 points and 14 boards.
The Pacers (1-2) struggled off the board being out-rebounded by Salisbury 56-27 only having seven offensive rebounds to the Sea Gulls 26.
The three remaining double-digit Sea Gulls came from senior Julia McLaughlin and freshman Kaylyn French who both had 12 points along with sophomore Mary McDonagh who documented 10 for the team.
Head coach Kelly Lewandowski said her team was more focused today. She felt the last couple of games they got themselves into a hole.
“I think that right off the tip we had better mentality and we were focused,” she said. “We were attacking a little bit more so I’m really proud of that, but there’s still some things we need to work on and I know we are improving each game.”
The Pacers had some trouble boxing out early on causing Salisbury to have more second chances to ante up the score.
The first quarter was all Salisbury as they led 21-7 off McDonagh’s eight points, two rebounds and assists. She gave the Sea Gulls their first lead early on draining a three-pointer followed by another jumper off a steal by McLaughlin and the assist by Noonan.
The Sea Gulls had sticky fingers with nine steals total with the majority coming from Rothfeld. Marywood didn’t record any steal statistics until the second quarter.
Good defense from both teams caused turnovers and some inbounding and shot clock violations. Lewandowski said that turnovers is something her team needs to work on.
“We need to take care of the basketball,” Lewandowski said. “We’re turning it over a few too many times, so just really valuing the basketball and the possession of it will come with some more experience with some of our younger players.”
In the third quarter, Salisbury had a 20-point lead as Marywood managed to go on a 7-0 run to reduce their deficit, but it still was no match for the Sea Gulls. The Pacers defense picked up causing the inbounding process for Salisbury to be rarely difficult.
Some mishaps on defense for Salisbury allowed Tara Steakin to sink two three-pointers back to back, but those were her only points for the remainder of the match. The Pacers had three players in double-digits: Courtney Murray (10 pts), Gabrielle Giordano (14 pts) and Catie Nealon (11 pts).
With the win, Rothfeld felt it was a great team performance. She loved that the whole team was involved.
“We said from the beginning that’s what we wanted,” Rothfeld said. “It’s our home tournament and we want everyone to get in always, so I think the starters like the first six definitely worked hard and got that lead.”
Noonan whose role has changed from last season to now is enjoying herself. Being a freshman on the bench to a starter is a huge upgrade.
“It’s a little different, but I’m excited to be doing it and it’s great to get in and play,” Noonan said. “I feel like it’s much different this year and I’m excited to play with Julia because we play so well together, so it’s a lot of fun.”
The Gulls head on the road Tuesday to take on Stevenson University. The game is set to start at 6 p.m.