BY STEPHEN CHOTT
It was a fight to the finish again as the Salisbury women’s basketball team came back and beat Methodist 71-68 in overtime in the opening game of the Optimist tournament.
Junior guard Lauren Rothfeld led the way for the Sea Gulls scoring 19 points including two huge free throws that sealed the game. She also grabbed 10 rebounds while spending just one minute of play on the bench. Senior forward Julia McLaughlin also contributed with 18 points in just 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
“It’s all mental. I didn’t know I played that much, I was so into the zone that I just kept going,” Rothfeld said. “I had to step up as the leader out there and keep the energy up and just cheer everyone on.”
The Sea Gulls were down three points at halftime but the young team refused to give up. After a fourth quarter comeback they completed in the team’s last game against Virginia Wesleyan, playing from behind didn’t cause the Gulls to panic.
“That’s something I’m proud of with our team in general and Salisbury as a program,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Kelly Lewandowski said. “We never give up, and no matter what the situation is we always keep fighting.”
With Salisbury’s leading scorer, McLaughlin fouling out near the end of regulation, the game was in question as the Gulls needed to count on Rothfeld and the rest of the team to carry them the rest of the way.
Along with impressive performances by Rothfeld and McLaughlin, sophomore forward Josephine Noonan picked up where she left off in the last game, scoring 10 points and collecting seven rebounds.
Ultimately free throws decided the game as Methodist only made one of eight shots from the line during overtime while Rothfeld sunk all four of her shots.
The win did come with its hiccups though, as the Sea Gulls turned over the ball 35 times and had several players in foul trouble.
“We have to be stronger with the ball, make more crisp passes and make smarter decisions,” McLaughlin said. “I think we’re forcing some things right now.”
The Sea Gulls will be in action again on Saturday as they try to win the Optimist tournament championship taking on Marywood University.