Balanced scoring effort and strong defense lead Salisbury past Marywood in Optimist Classic championship

Balanced scoring effort and strong defense lead Salisbury past Marywood in Optimist Classic championship

SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team used a balanced scoring effort, with five players finishing in double figures, to defeat Marywood University, 70-52, on Saturday afternoon to earn the 2015 Optimist Classic championship.

The win is Salisbury's first Optimist Classic championship since 2012, when the Sea Gulls defeated Valley Forge Christian and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to take the title.

Junior Lauren Rothfeld posted her second double-double in as many games, scoring 12 points and gathering a team-high 14 rebounds.

Marywood started the game with a 5-1 run, led by a three pointer from Gabrielle Giordano. But Salisbury would answer right back.

Sophomore Josephine Noonan scored a turnaround layup in the paint to stop the Pacers' start and spark a 9-0 run for the Sea Gulls to put them up 10-5.

Moments later, sophomore Mary McDonagh drained a three from the right wing after taking a pass from Noonan, giving Salisbury a 15-7 advantage. That basket was the first of nine-straight points, including a three-point play from sophomore Kaylyn French, which gave the Gulls a 21-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter. 

The Salisbury defense caused seven turnovers in the second quarter, and allowed only 10 points from Marywood, taking a 31-17 lead into the break.

Despite the strong defense, the Pacers opened the second with five-straight points to put the score at 21-12. Just 20 seconds later, a layup from Noonan brought the Sea Gulls back to a double-digit lead, which they would keep going into halftime.

Rothfeld had a strong quarter for Salisbury, tallying four points, to go with two rebounds, a steal, and an assist.

The defense didn't miss a beat at the beginning of the third quarter, allowing just five points from Marywood and causing three turnovers in the first five minutes.

Senior Julia McLaughlin started the scoring in the third, driving into the paint from the right elbow and finishing with a layup in front of the basket. McLaughlin would add a total of four points and two rebounds in the quarter.

The Pacers got to within 13 points four times in the quarter, including a Tara Steakin three-pointer that made the score 38-25, but the Sea Gull offense answered with seven-straight points to build a 20-point lead at 45-25.

Marywood put together a 14-5 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to cut its deficit to 11 points, the closest the Pacers had been since just over five minutes into the second when Salisbury led 27-15.

Salisbury withstood the Marywood push and built itself back up to a 15-point lead at 58-43 in the fourth quarter. Noonan, French and McLaughlin each scored in the spurt to lead the Sea Gulls.

Salisbury would not allow Marywood back to within 13 points for the rest of the contest, using strong defense and a balanced scoring effort, including buckets from sophomore Cortney Davis and freshman Hailey Ottaka, to finish the game. The points by Davis and Ottaka were the first of their Salisbury careers.

Noonan scored a team-high 13 points, while McLaughlin, Rothfeld and French each tallied 12. McDonagh posted 10 points to go along with a game-high seven assists.

The Sea Gulls will be back in action on Tuesday, November 24 when they travel to Owings Mills, Maryland to take on Stevenson University. That game is set for 6 p.m.

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