DOVER, Del. – Trailing by 14 points with less than eight minutes left at Wesley College, the Salisbury University men's basketball team nearly came all the way back in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals, but it wasn't enough as the Wolverines claimed a 73-66 win at Wentworth Gymnasium on Thursday.
Salisbury (19-8) will now wait and hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, which will be announced Monday.
Down 61-47, with 7:33 to play, senior Travon Vann hit a jump shot that set off an 8-2 run, which got SU within eight points when classmate Dylan Robeson knocked down a three-pointer with 4:16 left to make it 63-55. After a layup by Wesley's David Langan, freshmen Kyle Savercool and Luke Ruland sank two free throws and a jumper, respectively, making it a 65-59 game with 2:37 left. Junior Tim Harwood cut it to 67-63 with 1:43 left to force a Wesley timeout.
Freshman Jacoy Gillum stripped Brandin Youngblood after the timeout, but Langan blocked Vann's shot. With 28 seconds left, Langan hit two from the line to open a 69-63 advantage. Salisbury was not done, though. Vann canned a three to cut the lead in half, but Wesley converted four free throws to put the game away.
Vann finished with 24 points on 7-for-16 shooting, six rebounds and three steals to lead Salisbury. Classmate Elijah Gore recorded 13 points, all in the first half, to go along with another three steals. Harwood chipped in with 12 points, two assists and a steal. Ruland had a team-high eight rebounds and five points.
Wesley shot 54 percent (26-for-48) from the field and 38 percent (5-of-13) from three-point range and moves on to face top-seeded St. Mary's (Md.) College, an 89-81 winner over the fourth-seed University of Mary Washington, Thursday in the championship game.
Wesley opened a 9-3 lead over the first 3:02 on five points from Wayne Lennon and four from Reynolds, before Salisbury made a 12-6 run to take its first lead of the game as Gore hit a three-pointer to make it 16-15 at the 12:24 mark. Classmate Craig Ryan extended the spurt with a three of his own to push the Sea Gulls' lead to four, at 19-15, with 10:44 to play.
Wesley, however, retook the lead when Youngblood stuck a jumper with 8:47 left. Chris Viqueira responded with a layup and Vann a pair of free throws for a 23-21 edge prior to the Wolverines embarking on an 11-6 stretch to open a 32-27 lead on two Reynolds free throws.
Youngblood added a three-pointer from Eric Selby for a 35-29 bulge with 2:18 remaining, but Salisbury closed the half trailing, 39-34.
Reynolds paced Wesley (20-8) with a game-best 28 points and 10 boards. Langan registered 19 and Lennon 11 points for the Wolverines, who outrebounded Salisbury, 35-28.