BY RICKY POLLITT
After a year of perfection at Maggs Physical Activities Center, the Salisbury women’s basketball team lost its first home game to rival York on Wednesday night.
The Sea Gulls (8-4, 4-1 CAC) failed to stop York’s sophomore forward Morgan Kuehne who put up 29 points against the Salisbury defense and gave the Spartans (11-1, 5-0 CAC) an 80-74 victory.
“It was a good matchup. You had two undefeated (conference) teams going into it, so it was a back and forth throughout the game,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Kelly Lewandowski said.
Salisbury started the game slow, but came out of the second half with a six point lead and a chance to put York away early on.
Knowing the Spartans had several players who could score anywhere from the court, the Gulls relied on the play from some of their top weapons.
“We knew we were going to have a matchup problem because they are all very guard oriented,” Lewandowski said.
Senior forward Julia McLaughlin led Salisbury with 22 points and 12 rebounds to record her fourth double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Mary McDonagh also tallied 17 points and six rebounds during the match.
Despite coming in only allowing 54 points a game, the Gulls’ defense struggled to shut down York’s big three; Kuehne, Hruz and McFatridge who had a combined 56 points.
“We were in it the whole game,” McLaughlin said. “We knew they were all shooters, we tried to jump to where they were going, but the shooters got around us.”
The Gulls out-rebounded York 51-40; including bringing down 10 more offensive rebounds, but were unable to capitalize on given opportunities late in the game.
“You have to make foul shots, and you have to go after every rebound in order to win,” McLaughlin said.
Down by two with four seconds remaining in regulation, McLaughlin was able to tie the game with a jumper off the backboard to force the game into overtime, but it was York who took advantage with the extra five minutes.
The Spartans scored 16 points in overtime, depending on strong shooting from the foul line where they went 12-14 in the final five minutes.
“We wanted to focus on the defense and continue executing, but it didn’t go quite as planned,” Lewandowski said. “They’re a good team, and I was proud considering how young we are and how we competed with them.”
The loss ends Salisbury’s undefeated streak in the conference and gives York the tiebreaker in the CAC standings.
Salisbury now gets ready to head on the road for their next two matchups, where they will face Wesley and Mary Washington; the team they defeated in last year’s CAC Championship game.
“It’s still anyone’s conference, it’s how we come back, how we respond and how we practice after this,” McLaughlin said.