VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team used a big fourth quarter en route to a 61-48 victory in the season opener on Wednesday night over host Virginia Wesleyan University.
Junior Kaylyn French got things started for Salisbury (1-0) on a nice drive to the basket to get the Sea Gulls on the board first. After stretching the lead to 6-2 on a Mary McDonagh layup with 6:32 remaining in the first quarter, Salisbury would struggle to find the net the rest of the quarter. The Sea Gulls scored just two more points the rest of the opening quarter, while Virginia Wesleyan (0-1) went on a 7-0 run to end the first, taking a 12-8 lead.
The Marlins would continue their run in the second quarter, scoring the first three points of the quarter. Sophomore Rachel Ryan would put an end to the 10-0 run with a layup in front of the basket, pulling Salisbury within five. The Sea Gulls would go on a run of their own and take a 16-15 lead thanks to another layup by Ryan, a layup by Dalina Julien, and two free throws from French.
The teams would go back and forth before the Marlins made the first three-pointer of the game for either team with 26 seconds remaining in the half, giving Virginia Wesleyan a 21-18 lead heading into the break.
Junior Megan Konig knocked down a long field goal on an assist from McDonagh to get the scoring started in the third quarter. The Marlins, however, would extend their lead to five, 30-25, behind a few free throws and layup. Konig would connect on Salisbury's first three-pointer of the game with 1:01 remaining in the third to bring the score to 32-31. After trailing the entire quarter, Konig made two free throws to give the Sea Gulls a 33-32 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
After shooting under 30% the first three quarters, Salisbury was firing on all cylinders in the fourth quarter, shooting 63.6% from the field in the fourth. Sophomore Dalina Julien opened the quarter with a layup before freshman Amber Onyekwere scored the first points of her career on a three-pointer, capping an 11-0 run for the Sea Gulls.
Following two made free throws from Virginia Wesleyan, Konig banked in a three-pointer to give Salisbury its largest lead of the game at seven, 41-34. Junior Morgan Maturani helped extend the lead with a wide-open layup followed by a midrange jump shot, making it a 45-37 game. Konig would make a nice move on the baseline for another layup and McDonagh added a three-pointer for a 9-0 run, which was spurred by several turnovers thanks to great defense by the Sea Gulls. The McDonagh three-pointer with two minutes left in the game gave Salisbury a 50-37 lead and put things out of reach for the Marlins.
The Sea Gulls would clinch the victory by going 11-14 from the free throw line in the last 1:31 of the game, accounting for their last 11 points. Salisbury outscored Virginia Wesleyan 28-16 in the fourth quarter and held the Marlins to 25.0% shooting from the floor.
Konig paced the Sea Gulls with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. McDonagh had a near double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds, while French added 11 points and six rebounds of her own.
Salisbury will play in the Kean University Tournament on November 17 and 18, starting with a 7 p.m. game against host Kean University on Friday, November 17.