SALISBURY, Md. – A jumper by junior Julia McLaughlin and two good free throws by senior Sarah Seipp was enough to hold off a late Christopher Newport University surge, as the No. 20 Salisbury University women's basketball team snapped a five-game skid to the Captains with a 62-58 victory Wednesday afternoon in Maggs Physical Activities Center.
In a game that the Sea Gulls have been looking forward to since the conclusion of the 2013-14 season when CNU defeated SU by one point in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals, the result was decided in the closing minutes of play.
Captain Camry Green got Christopher Newport within one point, 56-55, with 1:52 remaining in the game on a good layup, but the patience of Salisbury paid off on the next series, as good ball movement set up the Gulls to find McLaughlin for a quick jumper on the right side, just feet out of the paint, to push the lead back to three.
The Captains (7-3, 3-1 CAC) looked to answer on the next possession, but a jump ball on an entanglement, following a rebound between senior Melanie Mocniak and Green, would give the Gulls back the ball with just under a minute left.
Salisbury (8-0, 3-0 CAC) took advantage of the change of possession, working off 24 seconds on the game clock before McLaughlin hit another inside jumper, this time from the left side, to push the lead to 60-55.
With 15 seconds remaining, Christopher Newport capitalized on an opportunity to get back to a one-possession game, as Bailey Dufrene dropped in a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Drawing three fouls in the final 11 seconds would send Seipp to the charity stripe for a one-and-one opportunity, in which the senior guard cashed in on both to seal the four-point victory.
In a game that saw a total of two lead changes and two ties, the Sea Gulls never trailed the Captains after the eight-minute mark in the first half. The first 20 minutes were strong offensively, but it was Salisbury's defense that pushed the Gulls to an eight-point lead, 36-28, at the break. Forcing 14 Captain turnovers with seven steals, the Sea Gulls cashed in 13 points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
The game opened up with CNU winning the tipoff, but senior guard Courtney McManus sparked the early momentum for the Gulls blocking Kendra Stone on a layup attempt, which would convert to a three-point finish on the other end by senior guard Anna Hackett. Trading several baskets for the next six minutes to get the score to 19-17 in favor of the Captains, SU would turn it on for the remaining eight minutes of the half and never surrender the lead for the rest of the game.
In the second half, the Gulls would push the lead to as much as 14, just three minutes in, scoring the first three baskets off finishes by Seipp, Hackett and McLaughlin. Over the next 17 minutes, the Captains chipped away at the 14-point lead, but came up just short in the final minutes.
Hackett led all scorers with 18 points, as the senior point guard moved up the program's all-time scoring list to No. 7, passing alumnus Myra Sturgis (1984-'87), who posted 1,394 career points. Hackett currently has 1,402, needing 54 more points to move up another spot.
Hackett was joined by McLaughlin and Seipp in double figures, with 14 points apiece. Seipp also recorded a game-high four assists and a team-high seven rebounds.
Salisbury takes its unblemished record on the road on December 28, as the Gulls head to the Montclair State University Holiday Tournament in Montclair, New Jersey. SU is set to face off against Illinois Wesleyan University at 7:30 p.m., for its opening game.