DOVER, Del. – The No. 14 Salisbury University men's basketball team clinched a Capital Athletic Conference playoff berth on Wednesday night, earning an 81-70 CAC victory at Wesley College.
The Sea Gulls (16-4, 11-2 CAC) jumped out to a 7-0 lead, with freshman Al Leder scoring five points in the early moments, including a three-pointer just 24 seconds into the contest. Senior Wyatt Smith put up the other two points.
Following the early run, the Wolverines (8-12, 6-7 CAC) put together a 10-2 spurt, to take the lead, and the game remained close until the closing minutes of the opening half.
Trailing by a point, 10-9, a layup from Smith allowed the lead to change hands, giving Salisbury an 11-10 lead with 11:30 left in the first half, and the game would not be tied again, though the Sea Gulls did not pull away until late in the opening stanza.
Salisbury held a modest lead over the next six minutes and used a late run to gain some breathing room at halftime. Ahead by one, Salisbury got a layup from senior Justin Witmer to spark a 7-0 run, with each point coming from Witmer, for a 27-19 lead.
The Gaithersburg, Maryland native scored 10 points in the closing six minutes of the half, as he stood at 13 points at halftime on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor.
The Wolverines hit three free throws to momentarily halt the run, but Salisbury scored seven-straight points, with three-pointers from Witmer and Barry Bratten, to open up a 36-26 lead at halftime.
Wesley cut into the lead in the second half, chipping its deficit down to two points on three occasions, the final coming when Brian Cameron hit a jumper with 11:15 left in the game.
Less than 30 seconds later, Salisbury pushed the lead back to two possessions thanks to a pair of free throws from Terray Quickley.
The game remained tight for the next three minutes, but Salisbury put together a 7-0 run to push the lead back to double figures with six minutes to play on a Smith layup. Smith scored 16 points to go with 13 rebounds in the game, as Salisbury never saw its lead dip below eight the rest of the way.
Gordon Jeter finished with 12 points as three Sea Gulls finished in double figures, with Witmer getting to 17. Salisbury shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, while holding a 40-35 edge in rebounding in the victory.
Salisbury will be back on the court on Saturday, February 4, hosting York College of Pennsylvania at Maggs Physical Activities Center in a contest that will begin at 4 p.m. A win on Saturday would secure a first-round bye and a home game in the CAC tournament later this month.