SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team hosted Pennsylvania State University–Harrisburg on Wednesday night in Capital Athletic Conference play and tamed the Lions with a 64-55 overtime victory.
The Gulls (12-10, 8-7 CAC) have now clinched a spot in the CAC postseason as St. Mary's College of Maryland needed to beat the University of Mary Washington tonight to remain alive, but UMW took down the Seahawks to send Salisbury into postseason play.
Neither side found the bottom of the basket until the 6:19 point in the first half when the Lions (5-17, 3-12 CAC) hit a tough layup to get on the board and the Gulls were able to respond on the next possession with a pair of free throws from Kaylyn French.
The Gulls got their first field goal at the 3:27 mark when after Head Coach Kelly Lewandowki called a timeout, Josephine Noonan came away with a steal and Lauren Rothfeld went down and drilled a three to give Salisbury a 7-6 lead. The Gulls' second basket from the floor was again a Rothfeld three as despite the slow start for both sides, the Salisbury offense was able to click in the last minutes with the quarter ending with Salisbury ahead, 12-8.
The CAC's reigning Player of the Week Rothfeld would end the game with as the leading scorer with 18 points and 13 rebounds for another double-double, while Noonan went for 11 points and six rebounds.
Salisbury dominated the entire second quarter as it began to pull away from the Lions. The Gulls had scored 12 in a row to open the quarter before the Lions hit their first basket with 1:56 to play in the half to make the score 24-10. As it looked like that would be the score going into half, Rachel Ryan put one in as the buzzer went off to go up 26-10.
At the break Salisbury had a distinctive edge on the glass with 29 rebounds to the Lions' 17. Also, Salisbury held every Lion to two points or less in the opening two quarters.
Penn St.–Harrisburg opened the second half on a 9-1 run in the first three minutes before Ryan hit a short-range jumper from Rothfeld to make the score 29-19 at 7:11. From there the Lions got within five, 36-31, at 3:09 but Salisbury responded right away as it ended the quarter on a 4-0 run. Morgan Grubb was a big part of the Gulls' ability to withstand the pressure as she went for six points in the quarter.
Grubb ended the day with nine points, while fellow junior guard Mary McDonagh had 11 points and a game-high five assists.
Ahead 40-31 to start the fourth, Salisbury saw its lead start to slip away as a Shanique Mattis three-pointer at 4:02 made it a one-score game at 45-42. Harrisburg got the game's next two points off a pair of free throws to make the score 45-44 but on the next possession Rothfeld responded with two free throws of her own.
The Lions tied the game at 47-47 with 1:04 to go with another clutch three from Mattis that would be the last scoring in regulation and send the game to overtime.
The free basketball period started with the sides trading layups before Paige Bryce went for a deep bank shot to go up 51-49 a minute into overtime before Rothfeld knocked down a deep two to extend the lead. The Lions got to within two points down the stretch but Salisbury was able to pull away and hit their free throws to close out the 64-55 victory.
Salisbury continued to control the glass in the second half as it ended the game with a 60-37 edge off the glass including 21 offensive rebounds.
The Gulls are back in action with a 1 p.m., tip against Southern Virginia University on Saturday February 11. That game will be both the team's senior day and their annual Play4Kay to support women's cancer research.