BY RICKY POLLITT
Trailing by 19 points early on, the Salisbury men’s basketball team was able to fight back, but could not hold off St. Mary’s from capturing the 70-67 victory Saturday night in Maggs Gymnasium.
In the first game of the New Year, the Sea Gulls (8-3, 1-3 CAC) struggled to stop the Seahawks’ (7-4, 3-1 CAC) high powered offense, while turning the ball over 16 times and committing 21 fouls.
“We didn’t get a lot of stops,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Andy Sachs said. “Offensively we weren’t clicking at all, and defensively we were poor.”
The first 10 minutes of the game were rough for Salisbury, but half way through the first the Gulls were finally able to start playing their game.
Junior forward Gordon Jeter took advantage inside the paint and posted 21 total points and five rebounds. Junior guard Justin Witmer also tallied 16 points and four steals.
Shooting 78-percent from the foul line, and capitalizing on the 25 turnovers St. Mary’s had, Salisbury played much more aggressive in the second half and gave themselves a chance to take control late in the game.
“The last 30 minutes were great, we took away what they did well, but it’s hard to come back from 19 points,” Sachs said.
Salisbury was able to take the lead briefly with just over six minutes left in the game, but the Sea Gulls’ inefficient three-point shooting allowed St. Mary’s to come back and seal the win.
The Gulls, a team that posted 19 three-pointers against DeSales on November 21, was held to five in the match, and only one in the first half.
“It was just one of those days, but we just need to get back in the gym and keep shooting,” Witmer said.
St. Mary’s had four players score in double digits, including sophomore guard Delaszo Smith who led all scorers with 23 points and seven rebounds.
“Most of their scores were on our turnovers or second shots, and we let their shooters get too many open looks,” Sachs said. “At the end of the day we lose by three, and there were just a lot of things where we could have done a better job.”
Being the reigning CAC Champions, the Sea Gulls now find themselves seventh in the CAC rankings with only conference opponents remaining on their schedule.
Salisbury will look to rebound from their loss Wednesday night against York who sits right above the Gulls in the CAC standings.
“It’s definitely one of our goals not to lose again at home,” Witmer said. “Like I said, we just got to get back in the gym, shoot it and rebound well.”