DOVER, Del. – The Salisbury University women's basketball team started off strong on Wednesday night, but was unable to survive a late comeback from Wesley College, falling to the Wolverines, 61-56, in Capital Athletic Conference play.
The Salisbury offense got off to a hot start, beginning the contest on a 9-2 run, led by sophomore Mary McDonagh, who tallied five points during the spurt, including a three-pointer from sophomore Morgan Grubb in front of the Wesley bench.
After the Wolverines' Tiyanna Gibbs cashed in a layup to put the score at 9-4, the Sea Gulls finished off the first quarter with a 4-1 stretch, with both baskets coming from sophomore Josephine Noonan.
Wesley started the second quarter with a long ball from Britney Kerns to close the gap and make the score 13-8, but Salisbury answered with an 8-0 run, including a turnaround jumper from senior Julia McLaughlin that forced a Wolverine timeout. McLaughlin and Grubb each posted four points during the run.
The Gulls (8-6, 4-3 CAC) took a 27-14 lead with 3:53 left in the second, including three points from junior Lauren Rothfeld, but the Wolverines would battle back.
Wesley used a 10-2 stretch to cut Salisbury's lead to 29-24 with less than two minutes before halftime; Brionna Johnson scored five points to lead the Wolverines during the run.
Despite the strong stretch from the Wolverines, the Sea Gulls went into halftime with the momentum, closing out the second with four-straight points, including a layup from junior Kelsie Bacon.
McLaughlin started off the third quarter with a left-handed layup moving from right to left to put the score at 35-24, but a 7-2 Wesley run got the Wolverines to within six points midway through the period.
Salisbury notched four points in a row to go back up by 10 points with 2:45 left in the third before the Wesley offense got hot and finished the quarter on a 9-2 run to put the score at 43-40 heading into the fourth.
Once again, McLaughlin got things going, scoring the first basket in the fourth to put the score at 45-40 early. But the Wolverines kept its offense going, posting a 13-2 spurt to take a 53-47 lead with four minutes left in regulation. Wesley had not led previously in the contest.
Both teams went through a scoring drought during the next 1:40 until McLaughlin broke it with a layup to make the score 53-49 with 2:20 left.
A minute later, Johnson drove in and hit a layup from the right side, increasing Wesley's lead to 55-49, and forcing the Gulls to make the Wolverines earn their points from the charity stripe for the rest of the game.
McLaughlin and McDonagh were each able to hit baskets down the stretch, but Wesley was able to cash in from the free throw line on each of its final offensive possessions to close out the game.
McLaughlin tallied a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds, while McDonagh finished with eight points and four assists.
The Sea Gulls will look to bounce back on Saturday, January 16, when they host Southern Virginia University in another CAC matchup. That game is set for 1 p.m.