BY BRANDON STARK
The Salisbury University women’s basketball team came into Tuesday night’s matchup 3-0 on the year, looking to continue its strong run. In their last home game, the Sea Gulls defeated Virginia Wesleyan University.
At the Gwynedd Mercy Tournament the previous weekend, SU defeated both Albright College and Gwynedd Mercy University to win the tournament championship. Freshman guard Kylie Webb was named the tournament MVP, while fellow freshman guard Jada Welbon was named to the all-tournament team.
“It felt good,” Webb said. “[Our tournament wins] were definitely a team effort.”
The Stevenson Mustangs came into Tuesday 2-2 on a two-game winning streak after winning both of their games at the Jean Edge Classic hosted by North Carolina Wesleyan College. Before that tournament, the Mustangs fell 66-64 in a tight contest against Christopher Newport, Salisbury’s Capital Athletic Conference rival.
The first quarter between the Mustangs and Sea Gulls was very back-and-forth, with eight lead changes and three ties. The largest lead by either team was five points, which Salisbury held late in the first quarter.
A buzzer-beating three-pointer gave the Mustangs a brief 21-20 lead after the first quarter.
The Sea Gulls quickly scored early in the second quarter to regain their lead, and they would not relinquish it. SU dominated the majority of the second quarter, outscoring the Mustangs 13-2 in the first nine minutes of it.
“I definitely think we picked it up more. We had a lot more intensity [in the second quarter] than in the first,” Brigham said. “Once we went into zone [coverage], I think our talk and working as a team was so much better than when we were in man [coverage].”
In the final minute of the second quarter, Stevenson scored five straight points coming off a pair of free throws and a Yasmeen Nelson three-point field goal. As time expired in the first half, sophomore forward Courtney Brigham made a layup off an assist by Welbon to put the Sea Gulls up 35-28 at halftime.
The Mustangs came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring SU 8-2 in the first three minutes of the quarter to trim the Sea Gulls’ lead to 37-36. Salisbury then scored the next four points over a two-and-a-half-minute span in the middle of the quarter.
However, the Mustangs would continue to keep the game close throughout the second half of the third quarter, holding Salisbury to at least a two-point lead throughout much of this span. Stevenson then tied the game at 46 with free throws late in the third quarter.
The Sea Gulls had a slim 49-48 lead at the end of the third quarter.
After a tightly contested start to the final quarter, Salisbury’s Brigham got a steal and made a layup at the other end to give the Sea Gulls a 53-51 lead. This steal would lead to a momentum switch for Salisbury, controlling the rest of this game. Later on, back-to-back layups by sophomore guard Amber Onyekwere secured Salisbury’s lead.
“I saw that Dalina [Julien] got the steal, and I knew she could get it to me, so that’s how I got those wide-open layups,” Onyekwere said.
The Sea Gulls went on to win 69-54. With the win, SU improved to 4-0 on the year for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Onyekwere and Brigham, both of whom came off the bench, led the Sea Gulls with 12 points each.
“I enjoy coming off of the bench because I feel like personally, it gives a new speed to the game,” Brigham said.
Junior center Rachel Ryan had a season-high 10 rebounds, along with eight points. Senior guard Megan Konig led the Sea Gulls with four assists while also recording eight points.
Salisbury will next hit the road at Marymount University (Va.) on Wednesday, Nov. 28. The Saints have currently won their last nine matchups vs. Salisbury.
The last time the Sea Gulls were victorious against Marymount was in the 2014-15 season, when they split the season series with their then-CAC foe. The last time Salisbury defeated Marymount on the road was in the 2011-12 season.
“We should be very confident going into Marymount because we have four wins behind us,” Brigham said. “We lost to them twice last year. We have a whole new team, and we have a whole bunch of new people who can do some great things against them that they’re not ready for.”
Featured photo: SU junior guard Dalina Julien brings the ball up the floor against Virginia Wesleyan. Nov. 14. Emma Reider photo