BY RICKY POLLITT
The Salisbury defense took over on Tuesday night as the men’s basketball team took down the No. 2 Virginia Wesleyan Marlins to move to 5-0 on the season.
Playing in the first home game of 2015, the Gulls’ defense forced 22 turnovers and 14 steals, carrying the team to a 71-60 victory over the Marlins (2-2).
“We’ve had four tough games on the road, so we just wanted to come home, with a home crowd to give us some energy,” senior guard Adrien Straughn said. “We wanted to put on a show for them.”
Salisbury finished the game with five players scoring in double digits, shooting 65.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Junior forward Gordon Jeter, who has become a leader on the squad, led all scorers with 14 points while also tallying five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“I had to step up,” Jeter said. “It’s time for me to step up and grow up, and I’m just looking to lead this team and hopefully do some big things.”
For the first time since 1992, Sea Gulls head coach Andy Sachs was able to see his team from the sideline of Maggs Physical Activities Center and show the fans just how dangerous Salisbury can be at home.
“Playing home games is something you really want to do, and we just want to prove to everybody last year wasn’t a fluke,” Sachs said.
Throughout the game, Salisbury’s offense outshot the Marlins, however half way through the first half, Virginia Wesleyan was able to take the lead attempting to make the Gulls play from behind.
Salisbury was able to recapture the lead at halftime with Straughn and fellow guard Rocky Harris finding open lanes to the basket and forcing Virginia Wesleyan turnovers.
“Coach Sachs has come in and he’s more about pressure,” Straughn said. “We got our hands up, got our hands on balls and forced some turnovers.”
After a record setting 19 three-point shots made in Salisbury’s previous victory, the Gulls turned to the long shot early on in the game with junior guard Justin Witmer capitalizing on four of six three-point shots.
“Witmer has a little more responsibility on him now with no Wyatt Smith in there, but it’s been somebody different stepping up for us every game this year,” Sachs said.
Salisbury will take the week off to enjoy the holiday, but head right back on the road to face Christopher Newport, the team they beat in last year’s CAC Championship game.
With the Gulls already achieving so much early in the season; taking down the No. 2 team in the nation and starting the season undefeated, Salisbury is determined to let the nation know last year was no stroke of luck.
“It’s our first conference game so we got to come out big, but CNU are the favorites so again, we got to go out and prove we’re the best team,” Straughn said.