Sea Gulls’ women’s basketball punches title game ticket behind strong play from senior trio

Staff Writer

The Salisbury University women’s basketball team prolonged their post-season run on Thursday night and defeated fifth-seeded York College of Pennsylvania in the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals, 76-61, inside Maggs’ Physical Activity Center.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>The Sea Gulls (24-2, 18-1 CAC) had three seniors score in double figures as Anna Hackett notched 21 points and eight assists, Sarah Seipp scored 18 points to go with seven assists and four steals and forward Melanie Mocniak registered her second double-double of the season, scoring 17 points to pair with 10 rebounds.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>Hackett and Seipp usually find themselves as the top scorers on most nights, but with Mocniak finding her groove in the paint in the second half, it added a third scorer for the Sea Gulls and made it easier for the pair of guards to score.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>“When people are focusing on Sarah and Anna a lot it’s nice to have that extra element of Melanie because it opens up the floor for Anna and Sarah – then we have three threats that they have to worry about,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Kelly Lewandowski said.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>This was the third matchup between the two teams and Salisbury ended the regular season with a second-half comeback and a 75-69 victory at York (12-15, 7-12 CAC) this past Saturday.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>This matchup was no different and the Sea Gulls would need a second-half surge to come back. York took control of the game from the start shooting 51.7 percent from the floor in the first half, knocking down three shots from behind the arc. In the first half, 20 of their points were in the paint and seven came from off the bench as Spartans’ senior Shea Wassel scored 14 points and seven rebounds before intermission.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>The Spartans managed to get a 10-point lead, but not before Seipp sank a three-pointer with a minute left to play in the first half.

Lewandowski talked to her team at halftime about what they needed to do in the second half. She said getting in the inside and attacking with the dribble toward the basket would be the key against York’s size and length.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>“Attacking in general is what made the difference for us offensively and I think we were playing a little passive and not hitting the boards as hard and trying to stay in on the perimeter,” she said.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>In the second half, Mocniak closed the gap on the deficit with a solid jumper off an assist from Seipp and then tied it up with back-to-back shots. She scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and most of her work was done in the post with a strong surge of emotion.

“The first half I was just exhausted like I couldn’t do what the team needed,” Mocniak said. “I kept getting burned on offense and in the second half I realized I had to pick it up. I couldn’t let (York’s) players keep doing the same thing to me and I just tried to fix that.”

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>In addition to Mocniak’s solid play in the second half, the team switched things up and started attacking and scored 14 points in the paint and 19 points from second-chance shots by crashing the offensive boards. They got the free throw line as well, knocking down eight-of-13 shots from the charity stripe.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>The Sea Gulls’ went on 10-1 run to take a commanding nine-point lead with under two minutes to play. Seipp, Hackett and Mocniak led the way on that run but it was capped off by a three-point shot from Courtney McManus – who finished with six points and six rebounds – that gave the Sea Gulls a nine-point lead and proved to be the dagger as the maroon and gold coasted to the win from there.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>“Everyone came ready to play. Not one point was just one person, everyone stepped up,” Seipp said. “That’s what’s really great is that we can rely on several different people.”

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:=”” “garamond”,”serif””=””>This victory sends them to the CAC Championship game which they will host on Saturday, facing off against the University of Mary Washington at 2 p.m.


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