NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team went to fifth-ranked Christopher Newport University and battled hard but ultimately fell to the Captains, 61-58, in Capital Athletic Conference action on Wednesday night.
Both sides opened up the game turning the ball over twice before Paige Bryce began the game's scoring with a spot-up jumper from between the free throw line and three point arc almost two minutes in to the game.
From there the Captains (18-0, 9-0 CAC) settled in and worked the score up to 9-6 before a Morgan Maturani jumper from the elbow brought it back within one at the 3:51 mark. From there the Gulls (9-9, 5-6 CAC) were able to tie things up at 15-15 with 1:03 left off a pair of Josephine Noonan free throws, but the home side scored four points in the last minute to make the score 19-15.
Noonan would end the game with 12 points off the bench.
To open the second, the Gulls tied it up within the first 50 seconds as Noonan knocked down a jumper before Kelsie Bacon got behind the Captain defense in transition and layed one in. Both opening buckets were products of Mary McDonagh's facilitation.
On the day McDonagh ended with 11 assists as the game's high mark for assists.
The game stayed knotted at 19-19 until the 6:28 mark when the Captains retook the lead with a two. After another significant gap in scoring, Bryce knocked down her sixth point of the day with a jumper from the wing at 4:53 to bring the score to a 21-21 tie.
Bryce ended the day 12 points in just 15 minutes as she battled foul trouble early.
The Captains got on top 22-21 with a free throw but Bryce struck again with a mid-range jumper to give Salisbury its first lead since early in the first. From there the Gulls extended the run to 8-0 as Rothfeld hit catch-and-shoot three-pointers on consecutive possessions with the latter coming at the 1:24 mark.
Rothfeld concluded the contest as the team's leading scorer with 19, including nine in the fourth quarter. She also nabbed a double-double with 11 boards as she also added in four blocks, four assists, and four steals.
The Captains got one basket in the last 1:24 to make the score 29-24 at the break. It marks the first time all season that Christopher Newport has not had the lead going into the locker room at halftime.
To open up the second half, the Captains went on a 8-0 run to make the score 32-29 before McDonagh put a stop to the run with a clutch three-pointer with 6:08 to go in the quarter, making the score 32-32. The teams worked the tie up to 36-36 at 3:28 before the Captains went for three free throws in a row over a two-minute span. In the last minute, a Rothfeld jumper and an Ashlyn Smith free throw tied it at 39-39 before CNU got a late bucket to send the game into the fourth quarter ahead 41-39.
Thirty-six seconds into the fourth quarter, Rothfeld had already gone on a 5-0 run of her own, getting Salisbury back ahead, 44-41. From there CNU went on a quick 4-0 spurt before Kelsie Bacon and Rothfeld responded on consecutive possessions to retain the three-point lead, 48-45, at the 6:35 mark.
The Captains were able to tie it at 52-52 with a three-pointer at 4:15 before Noonan knocked one off the glass to get the lead back on the next possession. Trailing 54-52, the Captains went on a 6-0 run before Bryce put one in off an offensive rebound at 1:26 to bring the score to bring the Gulls within two, 58-56. The sides traded baskets with Noonan scoring for the Gulls to bring the game to 60-58. The Captains had the ball in the last 35 seconds and tossed up a three with the shot clock winding down but CNU caught a favorable bounce off the iron and found themselves on the foul line with one second to go and hit one shot to ice the win.
With a second left, Head Coach Kelly Lewandowski advanced the ball to half court with a timeout and Rothfeld had time to get an off-balance attempt out of her hands from deep before time expired but the look would not drop.
Salisbury is back in action on Saturday, January 28 as it returns to the Maggs Physical Activities Center for a 2 p.m., game against the University of Mary Washington.