BY RICKY POLLITT
Behind Salisbury’s tough defense, the men’s basketball team defeated Southern Virginia 67-52 Saturday night to record its fourth straight victory.
Led by seniors Jacoy Gillum and Adrien Straughn, the Sea Gulls (12-3, 5-3 CAC) forced 17 turnovers, nine steals and rebounded 36 shots. It was the eighth time this season Salisbury held an opponent under 60 points.
Southern Virginia (5-10, 4-4 CAC) entered the game with four players averaging double digit in points a game, but the amount of weapons for the Knights was no match for Salisbury’s high flying defense.
“Defensively we were awesome,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Andy Sachs said. “We haven’t outrebounded a lot of teams so it was good to see us do that, but we have a long way to go and still need to get better.”
Southern Virginia guard Kevin Walker unloaded 16 first half points against Salisbury in the match, however the Gulls made the necessary halftime adjustments and held Walker to only two points in the second half.
Offensively Salisbury relied on their top-scorer, junior forward Gordon Jeter who tallied 14 points and three assists. Straughn, senior forward Kyle Savercool and junior guard Justin Witmer, all finished in double digit scoring as well.
“We just want to be that team to beat,” Jeter said. “We want to give that top competition and let (other teams) know we’re here.”
Unlike other senior on Salisbury’s squad, Gillum experienced a major increase in his role Saturday night.
Playing 17 total minutes; the most he has played in his career at Salisbury, Gillum put up three points, four blocks, eight rebounds and a steal.
“It’s a long time coming. I’ve worked really hard for it, but I’m just happy to be playing the sport I love,” he said. “Jeter has been teaching me a lot as well as a lot of the guys on the team.”
The victory was one of the cleanest victories Salisbury has experienced this season. The unit led in field goal percentage, three point percentage, rebounds and turnovers.
After sitting seventh in the Capital Athletic Conference standings one month ago, the four game stretch has placed the Gulls in the top three of their conference, fighting to claim home court advantage in the postseason.
“Every game has different dynamics, so you have to take every game one at a time. Hopefully we keep winning and get some important games at home for the tournament,” Sachs said.
Salisbury is back in action at Maggs on Wednesday night to face Marymount, but will then head on the road to face St. Mary’s and Penn State-Harrisburg; two teams the Gulls lost to earlier in the season.
Last season, Salisbury concluded the season with a 10-game win streak, a stretch of games that ended with the Sea Gulls claiming the CAC Championship.
With students, faculty and local kids coming out to see the team play, Salisbury players are hoping to bring another championship home to their fans.
“We hear little kids on the sidewalk saying ‘good game,’ so we’ve got to do something to give back to them,” Jeter said. “We have to put teams away, and if we do that early, we can just cruise.”