SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team hosted Stevenson University on Tuesday night and took down the Mustangs, 64-57, in its final non-conference game before conference play opens up.
The Gulls opened up the contest pressuring the Mustang ball handlers and forced the visitors to miss their first seven field goal attempts of the game. With 4:40 on the clock in the first quarter when the Mustangs hit their first basket, the Gulls had already amassed a 10-0 lead.
Continuing the pressure, Salisbury closed out the first quarter with a 16-6 lead over Stevenson. One of the contributing factors to the early push was Salisbury's ability to double the Mustang rebound total with a 14-7 edge on the glass.
In the second quarter Stevenson began to solve the Gulls' press and crept back into the contest. In the first quarter, Salisbury held Stevenson to 20 percent from the field, however in the second quarter the Mustangs were able to shoot 43.8 percent from the floor.
At the conclusion of the second quarter Salisbury led 29-22. Paige Bryce was the story of the first half, getting 10 points off the bench in just 11 minutes of play to lead the game. The 10 points at the half for Bryce bested her previous career high of eight points in a game.
Bryce ended the day with 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Mary McDonagh sparked the Gulls as they started the third quarter with a 9-4 run. In the run, the point guard scored three points and dished out three assists in the opening of the second half. McDonagh ended the game with nine points and a game-high seven assists.
Stevenson however outscored the Gulls for the second quarter in a row as they shot 64.3 percent in the third quarter, scoring 19 points to Salisbury's 16. The Gulls ended the third still holding onto the lead at 45-41.
Under two minutes into the fourth, Stevenson caught up to Salisbury for the first time since the game was scoreless, as the teams were knotted at 45.
Moments later, Stevenson got its first lead of the game and from there the teams would trade blows to the finish.
Bryce's layup 12 seconds later gave Salisbury the lead for good, and the edge grew to five points on buckets from McDonagh and Megan Konig.
At the 2:48 mark, the lead remained five points and neither team would score again until there were just 58 seconds left when Lauren Rothfeld knocked down a free throw.
The Sea Gulls maintained the late edge, holding a 5-1 advantage on rebounds in the closing two minutes of play, and outrebounded the Mustangs 40-33 in the game.
Rothfeld finished the game as the team's leading scorer with 17 points, marking the third time in the team's four games she has done so. Seven of her points came in the fourth quarter as she was a big part of Salisbury being able to hold off Stevenson down the stretch. Rothfeld also added a team-high nine boards.
As the Mustangs started fouling Salisbury in the final 45 seconds, the Gulls were able to knock down their free throws and not give the Mustangs a chance to get back in it.
The Gulls return to action on Wednesday, November 30 when they open up Capital Athletic Conference play with a game against St. Mary's College of Maryland at home. That game is set for 5:30 p.m.