SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's basketball team picked up what is arguably the program's biggest regular-season win of all time on Tuesday night, taking down No. 1-ranked Virginia Wesleyan College, 68-65, at Maggs Physical Activities Center.
The Sea Gulls (4-0) came to play against the top team in the nation, taking an eight-point lead, 13-5, in the first four minutes of action, forcing the Marlins to take an early timeout to slow things down.
The Marlins held the Sea Gulls scoreless for the next three minutes until sophomore Tim Harwood reclaimed the lead with 10 minutes left to play, followed by a bucket by junior Elijah Gore to push the lead to 17-14; it was one of five first-half lead changes.
With less than seven minutes to play in the first frame, senior Devin Posey cut off a Virginia Wesleyan pass and got the Gulls out in transition. Posey found junior Trent Epps running the floor and the center put home a ferocious dunk for a 22-18 lead.
Salisbury's defense held the Marlins (0-1) to six points over the last seven minutes of the first half, taking a 32-26 lead into the break. The Sea Gulls recorded nine steals and caused 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play, turning those Virginia Wesleyan miscues into 11 points.
A strong defensive presence from the Sea Gulls allowed the lead to hover around 10 points until the three-minute mark when the Marlins began to chip away.
With under a minute to play Virginia Wesleyan had closed the gap to three points, 65-62, and a turnover by the Marlins gave Salisbury possession of the ball with 45 seconds to play. A foul by Donald Vaughn put Posey at the line with 20 seconds remaining, where he sank one-of-two attempts, giving Salisbury a four-point edge.
The Marlins would not go quietly and Chris Astorga made it a one-point game, 66-65, with 12 seconds to play, burying a three-pointer. Harwood sank two free with nine seconds remaining and Virginia Wesleyan would scramble to get off a three-point attempt to tie the game, but could not get a good look, allowing Salisbury to collect its fourth consecutive win to open the season.
Salisbury shot 50 percent from the floor (20-of-40) while committing just 14 turnovers and causing 24 by the Marlins.
Atkins led the way statistically with 15 points while Harwood added a dozen and senior Jason Nwosu scored 11 points. Posey registered five steals for the Sea Gulls.
Vaughn scored 15 to lead the Marlins.
Salisbury will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 30, when the Sea Gulls will travel to Hood College for the team's first Capital Athletic Conference contest of the season. Salisbury will be looking for its first five-game win streak to open a season since 2000.