SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 11 Salisbury University women's basketball team solidified its spot as one of the final eight teams left playing this season with a 63-58 win over No. 12 Amherst College on Friday night, and now the Sea Gulls are set to take on No. 7 Montclair State University on Saturday, March 14, with the game set for 6 p.m.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls defeated Amherst behind a halftime push that saw Salisbury outscore the Lord Jeffs 38-25 in the period. Salisbury trailed 33-25 at halftime, but a 16-5 run to open the second half got the Gulls going. Senior Anna Hackett scored 29 points to lead the Sea Gulls, with 17 coming in the second half.
How they got here
Montclair took down Bowdoin College in the other sectional semifinal game, 61-54. The Red Hawks controlled the first half and took a 33-18 lead into halftime. The Polar Bears fought back with a strong second half to get as close as four points in the final moments, but the Red Hawks were clutch from the free-throw line to secure the win. Montclair was led by Janitza Aquino's 17 points and Melissa Tobie's 17 rebounds.
The Sea Gulls and Red Hawks have only met three times before Saturday, with Montclair holding a 2-1 record in the series. Most recently, the teams have met in 2012 and 2014, with Montclair taking both games. Salisbury's victory came in a 69-52 game on December 12, 2001.
Last time we met
Salisbury and Montclair met earlier this season on December 29, 2014 in a 76-54 Red Hawks' win. Montclair jumped out to a big, early lead, taking a 42-20 score into halftime and never looked back. The Sea Gulls were led by Sarah Seipp's 17 points, while Hackett added 11.
With the win over Amherst, the Sea Gulls can add to the list of program firsts that they have set this season. This marks the first time in program history that any team has made a trip to the NCAA Division III tournament sectional finals. Salisbury has surpassed the 2001-'02 team that made it to the sectional semifinals during the last NCAA tournament run for the Gulls.
Defeating the victor
Montclair enters the game with only one loss on its record, coming to Stockton University, 61-60, on January 14. The Ospreys ended up coming to Salisbury, Maryland for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament with the Sea Gulls advancing past Stockton, 61-54, at Maggs Physical Activities Center in second-round action. Hackett led the Gulls with 21 points in the game that featured another strong second half for the team.
The winner of Saturday's matchup will advance to the NCAA semifinals in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Friday, March 20. They will take on the winner of another sectional finals contest between No. 3 George Fox University and No. 6 Calvin College. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m., eastern time.