WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senior Travon Vann scored a career-best 36 points as the Salisbury University men's basketball team topped Gallaudet University, 88-84, in the opening round of the Gallaudet Holiday Tournament on Friday afternoon.
Vann, who has scored no fewer than 17 points in any of his team's five games this season, was good on 11-of-15 attempts from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. He shot 11-of-13 from the free-throw line and also had 10 rebounds and five assists in the game.
The 36 points are the most in a game by a Sea Gull since Ray Williams put up 41 in a five-overtime affair against Marymount (Va.) University on Feb. 14, 2007.
With the win, Salisbury advances to the tournament championship game on Saturday evening, at 6 p.m., against Valley Forge Christian College, a 68-63 winner against St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) College.
Friday's contest remained close throughout the opening half, with neither team able to stretch its lead past five points in the first 15 minutes of the game. Salisbury senior Trent Epps laid a shot home for a 10-5 lead four minutes in, off a Vann assist, and it was the only five-point edge for either team until Vann connected on three-pointers on consecutive Salisbury possessions, pushing the Sea Gull lead to 30-24 with 4:02 left in the first half.
The six-point lead lasted only a moment as the Bison (2-2) closed the half on a 10-4 run to tie the game at 34-34.
Salisbury (4-1) never trailed in the second half, taking the lead just 53 seconds in when sophomore Chris Viqueira connected on a three-pointer, off an assist from junior Tim Harwood. Harwood had a strong game all over the court, with eight points, seven rebounds, a game-high-tying seven assists and three steals.
The Viqueira triple sparked an 11-2 run by the Sea Gulls, as their lead became 45-36 just over three minutes into the second half.
Gallaudet cut the lead to two a few minutes later before Salisbury pulled away. A 9-3 scoring burst, covering two minutes, pushed the Sea Gulls' lead to its largest of the day, 76-59, with four minutes left in the game.
The Bison got the lead to single digits and, with strong three-point shooting in the closing minutes (Gallaudet hit 6-of-7 threes at one point), cut the deficit to four with 14 seconds remaining. But Vann hit 3-of-4 free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Salisbury shot 58.3 percent in the second half while the Bison connected on 72 percent of its shots in the closing 20 minutes.
Epps scored 14 points and pulled down five rebounds for Salisbury while senior Elijah Gore came off the bench to add 11 points as the Salisbury bench outscored the Gallaudet reserves, 20-9 in the game.
The Bison were led by Layton Seeber's 26 points while Orion Palmer and Danny Kelly each had 19. Palmer also had seven assists and nine rebounds.