BY MARK DAVIS
The Sea Gulls men’s basketball team advanced to the CAC championship for the second year in a row after a win at home against Mary Washington semi-final. They will be facing their familiar conference foe Christopher Newport University, who they beat in the championship just last season.
The rivalry still lived on through the regular season this year, with Salisbury losing in both games, the second one coming in an overtime win for CNU.
Last season’s championship game saw Salisbury win the championship by one point over the Captains after two made foul shots by junior forward Wyatt Smith.
The Gulls have had many new faces this season including first year head coach Andrew Sachs. Sachs came from Bethany College and has helped bring the Sea Gulls back to a winning season and another CAC championship appearance.
Salisbury is on a six game winning streak and are looking to keep the streak going. They have had three players all in double figures in the last five games including the win they received in the semi-final round.
Overall, Salisbury is 21-5 and 13-5 in the conference, however two of the losses have been at the hands of CNU.
Salisbury lost their lead scorer from last season when Smith was ruled out for 2016 season with a shoulder injury. Play from the team’s other top threats on offense and defense, Justin Witmer and Gordon Jeter, have helped balance the loss of their big time forward.
Witmer has averaged 10.5 points a game, and Jeter who’s also been a major contributor, this season has averaged 13.6.
Sophomore forward, Chad Barcikowski has aided the Sea Gulls to another winning season with his impressive play in the second half of the season.
However, Salisbury has relied on its defense and leadership from the six seniors on the maroon and gold. All six have stepped this season, and look to end their collegiate careers with a championship win.
Versatility best describes the Sea Gulls’ team. They have several players that can play inside, shoot the long ball from beyond the arc and get low to force turnovers.
“You got to win in two big stats, those are turnovers and rebounds. Whatever it is we have to win on Saturday,” Sachs said.
In the first game at CNU, Salisbury had trouble containing sophomore guard Aaron McFarland who came off the bench and scored 27 points. The Captains were able to secure the 71-60 victory and hold the tie-breaker over Salisbury.
In the second contest, CNU traveled to Salisbury for an overtime win for the Captains. Salisbury stopped McFarland, holding him to only 5 points, but struggled shutting down junior forward Tim Daly who forced overtime with two foul shots at the end of regulation. Daly finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds.
With the championship on the line, both squads will look to claim the conference’s top prize. Another chapter of this historic rivalry will be written when these two square off for another conference championship.
The winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament for a chance to win the DIII National Championship.
IF YOU GO.
WHO: Salisbury vs. Christopher Newport (CAC Championship)
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 27 at 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Freeman Center (Christopher Newport University)