DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Despite a strong second quarter offensively and defensively, the Salisbury University women's basketball team came up just short on Monday afternoon, falling to Messiah College, 59-54, on the first day of the Land of Magic Classic in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Messiah started the game on a 7-2 run led by five points from Jen Fairbanks during the span. The Falcons kept a five-point lead four-and-a-half minutes in after two free throws from Kaitlyn Hoff put the score at 9-4, but the Sea Gulls would battle back with seven-straight points to go up 11-9. Junior Lauren Rothfeld tallied four points during the stretch to lead SU.
Salisbury and Messiah went back-and-forth to finish off the first quarter, and the Falcons took a 17-16 advantage heading into the second.
The Sea Gulls used a stifling effort on defense in the second quarter, allowing just seven points from the Falcons and forcing them to shoot 23% from the field, as Salisbury took a 32-24 lead into halftime.
Salisbury started the quarter off strong, using a 10-2 spurt to take a 26-19 with under six minutes before halftime. Sophomore Josephine Noonan tallied five points during the run, while a three-pointer from sophomore Mary McDonagh finished the stretch, causing Messiah to call a 30-second timeout.
The Falcons battled back to get the score to 26-23, but the Sea Gulls used another run to take a 32-24 advantage into halftime, led by a team effort from senior Julia McLaughlin, Rothfeld, and McDonagh.
In the third quarter, Messiah's defense clamped down, allowing just nine points from Salisbury in the period. The Falcons started the quarter on an 8-2 run to get the game within two points at 34-32.
Two free throws from Rothfeld stopped the spurt and put the Sea Gulls up by four at 36-32 before Messiah answered with a 12-5 run to end the quarter and take a lead 44-41 lead over Salisbury heading into the fourth.
During the first eight minutes of the fourth, neither team built more than a three-point lead. Messiah led for the first five-and-a-half minutes in the period, but Salisbury fought back and took a 49-48 lead with 4:29 to go in regulation thanks to a layup from sophomore Dee Terry.
With 2:09 left, the Gulls went up 50-48 after a made free throw from Terry, but a three pointer from Becca Isaac started a flurry of six-straight points that put the Falcons up 54-50 with 90 seconds left.
A layup from McLaughlin with 15 seconds to go put Salisbury within one point at 55-54, but the Sea Gulls would not hold on as four free throws from Messiah put the game away.
Noonan led the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, while Rothfeld finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. McLaughlin tallied 11 points to go along with five steals and four rebounds.
Salisbury will take on No. 3 Amherst College tomorrow for the second day of the Land of Magic Classic in Daytona Beach. That game is set for 3 p.m.