BY RICKY POLLITT
After a heartbreaking comeback loss to CNU Wednesday night, Salisbury’s men’s basketball team nearly had a repeat game by letting up a 13 point lead at halftime to conference rival Mary Washington.
With 11 three-pointers, seven steals and a half-court buzzer beater, luck was on Salisbury’s side as they defeated the Eagles 76-68 Saturday night at Maggs Gym.
It was a tale of two halves with the Sea Gulls (16-5, 9-5 CAC) dominating the Eagles (11-10, 7-7 CAC) on both sides of the ball in the first half.
Senior guard Adrien Straughn hit a half-court shot as time expired to give the Sea Gulls a 13-point lead and all the momentum going into halftime.
“We practice that shot in warmups, and it came in handy today,” Straughn said.
However, the second half was a different story for the No. 2 seeded Sea Gulls.
Mary Washington went on a 12-2 run to start the half with Eagles’ guard T.J. Jones and forward Eric Shaw leading the way.
Having lost two of the last three games after having strong first half showings, the Gulls called on Straughn and junior forward Gordon Jeter to get Salisbury back on the winning side.
“I just had to get my team going,” Jeter said. “It’s like I tell my guys all the time: be yourself and let the little things win the basketball game.”
Jeter recorded his third double-double of the year with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Straughn (17) and guard Rocky Harris (11) were the only other players to score in double digits for SU.
“I just found open spots, tried to get free runs to the rim and just try to not have anybody pay attention to what I was doing,” Jeter said. “Boxing out, getting into position and playing my game did it.”
The Eagles were able to erase SU’s lead and tied the game at 50 with under 10 minutes left in the game.
The lead switched back and forth, until Harris made a three-point jump shot in the corner to give Salisbury a comfortable edge with under two minutes left in the match.
After three Mary Washington turnovers, SU was able to relax, hold on to the ball and ensure the victory.
“We need to take it a game at a time, and if we can get to the championship game, we want to ensure that we can make it into the NCAA tournament,” Sea Gulls head coach Andy Sachs said.
The victory gives Salisbury some breathing room in the conference standings. Now with a two game lead over No. 3 Penn. State-Harrisburg, the Gulls can win out and clinch a first round bye in the CAC tournament.
“We’ve got to keep getting these wins and finish out strong,” Straughn said. “At the end of the day it’s on us.”