VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team used a fourth-quarter comeback, led by senior Julia McLaughlin's double-double, to defeat Virginia Wesleyan College, 61-57, in its season opener on Saturday afternoon.
The Marlins tallied the first three points of the contest to take a 3-0 lead, an advantage it would not relinquish for the first three quarters. McLaughlin scored a jumper from the left elbow to put the Sea Gulls on the board and put the score at 3-2. But during the next eight minutes, Virginia Wesleyan would jump out to a 17-6 lead, led by Crystal Strother, who had seven points during the run.
The Sea Gulls fought back in the last minute of the quarter, getting layups from McLaughlin and sophomore Mary McDonagh to cut the Marlins' lead to 17-10 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Salisbury continued to chip away at Virginia Wesleyan's lead and did not let the Marlins pull away.
Sophomore Josephine Noonan led the Gulls in the quarter, tallying five points, including finishing on a three-point play that cut the Marlins' lead to 19-15.
With just over two minutes to go in the half, the Marlins went up by 11, but a jumper by sophomore Dee Terry and a McDonagh three-pointer with three seconds to go closed the gap, making the score 32-27 at halftime.
Virginia Wesleyan jumped out to a 43-35 lead in the third quarter, but Salisbury answered with six points by McLaughlin off two layups and a jump shot that put the score at 45-41. After the Marlins went back up by eight, Noonan finished with a layup with 35 seconds on the clock to make the score 49-43 going into the fourth quarter.
McLaughlin connected with a layup eight seconds into the fourth to put the score at 49-45, and the Gulls would start to slowly chip away at the Marlins' lead. A layup by Jaelyn Washington and a three-pointer by Strother built the Virginia Wesleyan lead to 54-47, but the Sea Gulls would score six-straight points in a collective effort by freshman Megan Konig, Noonan and McLaughlin to pull the game within one at 54-53.
After a free throw by Platt with 4:06 remaining, junior Lauren Rothfeld tied the game at 55-55, grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring with a layup. On Salisbury's next possession, Noonan scored to give the Gulls their first lead of the game, 57-55.
A free throw from sophomore Morgan Grubb gave the Sea Gulls a three-point lead before two more baskets from the charity stripe from Platt cut Salisbury's advantage to 58-57.
With 35 seconds to go, Noonan connected with a layup after gathering a ball that was knocked loose from McLaughlin's grasp, giving the Sea Gulls a 60-57 lead. Salisbury's defense held strong for the last 30 seconds as McDonagh pulled down a defensive rebound with five seconds left to put the game out of reach.
McLaughlin had a strong outing for Salisbury, notching a double-double and leading the team with 22 points and 19 rebounds, while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Noonan tallied 17 points for the Gulls, while McDonagh led the team with eight assists.
Salisbury will be back at home for the Optimist Tournament on Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21. The Sea Gulls will host Methodist University for the first day of the tournament on Friday. That game is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.