NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 19 Salisbury University women's basketball team had an early hot hand, scoring 54 first-half points, to help the Gulls soar past Christopher Newport University, 89-72, in a Capital Athletic Conference tilt Wednesday night in the Freeman Center.
With the victory, not only does SU maintain its unblemished mark in the league, it also solidified at least one home game in the conference tournament later this month. Additionally, the 19th win marks the most in a season since 2002-'03 when the Gulls finished the year with 23 victories.
The Sea Gulls (19-1, 13-0 CAC) put together a balanced attack in the first half, seeing seven players record points, while they took a 54-38 lead into the break. The 54 points is the most scored in a half by SU since the 2012-'13 season when it dropped 56 against Penn State University-Abington on November 17, 2012.
In the opening three minutes, the game looked to be tight, trading baskets until the score was level at 6-6, but this is when Salisbury ignited a 15-3 run to spread the score to 21-9 by the 13:26 mark. Senior Melanie Mocniak kicked off the run, driving down the middle of the paint for a lay-in, drawing the foul and finishing the three-point play at the free-throw line. Following a made free throw by senior Sarah Seipp and a defensive stop, junior Julia McLaughlin, with the ball inside, made the kick to the left wing where senior Courtney McManus was spotted up for a good jumper, the 12-6 advantage and forcing the Captains (12-8, 8-5 CAC) to take their first timeout.
The scoring would continue for the Sea Gulls coming out of the timeout, seeing senior Anna Hackett hit a jumper and sophomore Lauren Rothfeld finish a layup before CNU cashed in on a three-pointer on the other end. Capping off the 15-3 run was junior Kathy Albornoz with a jumper followed by a long three-pointer by Rothfeld.
The largest lead of the half for the Sea Gulls hit the 20-point mark with 2:19 left, coming off two free throws by McLaughlin.
At the half, with a 54-38 advantage, Salisbury shot 54.1 percent from the field (20-for-37), including 38.5 percent from behind the arc (5-for-13). Seipp and Hackett paced the offense with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Although the Captains kept the game under a 20-point deficit, the Gulls wouldn't let the lead drop below 15 for the remainder of the game.
By the 13:17 mark, SU went on a 5-0 run that spread the score to the largest advantage of the game, 24 points. Started off by a Seipp free throw, senior Aleisha Hobbs laid in a bucket before Hackett cashed in on a jumper for the 75-51 lead.
In the final 10 minutes, CNU got as close as 15 points just one more time, with just 16 seconds left in the game, but two good free throws by freshman Josephine Noonan finished off the Captains, 89-72.
Salisbury shot 50.8 percent for the game, while four Gulls tallied double-digit points. Led by a season-high 22 points by Seipp, Hackett added 17 while Mocniak and McLaughlin chipped in with 13 and 10, respectively. Albornoz led SU in rebounds with nine, while Hackett posted a game-high six assists.
The Sea Gulls head back home for their next game, as the top two teams in the conference faceoff on Saturday, February 7. Salisbury welcomes the University of Mary Washington, which currently sits with just one loss in the CAC, to Maggs Physical Activities Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Prior to the game, Salisbury will recognize its two members of the CAC Silver Anniversary team for basketball, Amy Campion and Hackett.