SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury University women's basketball team overcame a late scoring run by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to claim the 2012 Optimist Tournament title on Saturday with a 74-68 victory.
From the opening tip, Salisbury (3-3) controlled the first 20 minutes of play as junior forward Becca Himes put in SU's first jumper of the contest just 16 seconds into the game.
Senior forward Katie McGahagan pushed Salisbury to a 6-2 lead as she pulled down her first of seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play, before making a jumper from the paint. Sophomore guard Courtney McManus quickly increased the lead to 9-3 hitting a three as Himes assisted on the play.
MCLA (3-2) and the Sea Gulls suffered a series of turnovers before SU slowed down play and got a layup from sophomore point guard Anna Hackett which gave the maroon and gold an eight-point advantage, 11-3, with 16 minutes remaining in the half.
The Trailblazers would hit a three at the 12:06 mark, their first points in over three minutes of action, to pull within nine, 15-6, before Hackett and sophomore forward Aleisha Hobbs worked together as Hackett's look away pass resulted in a Hobbs layup.
Salisbury entered halftime with a 38-23 advantage with MCLA scoring 14 points from the free-throw line.
The Trailblazers flipped a switch in the second half, slowly chipping away at the Sea Gulls' lead. A Danille Scolpino three with nine minutes to go would bring the Trailblazers within six, 48-42.
King reentered the game and made an instant impact after finding herself in early foul trouble in the first half. The sophomore point guard sank two free throws and then picked off Mariah Brown before making a fast break down the floor and laying in two off the glass to give the Sea Gulls the momentum back. The Kensington, Md., native then assisted McGahagan who gave SU a 12-point margin, 54-42, with 10 mintues left.
With under three minutes to play, the Sea Gulls found themselves stuck at 67 with the Trailblazers making a 12-point run and claiming the lead for the first time, 68-67, with 2:35 left on the clock.
Salisbury buckled down and a free throw by Hackett evened the contest at 68 apiece before the Sea Gulls went on to score six straight points to earn the Optimist Tournament title. Four of those last six points were from the free-throw line.
SU outscored MCLA in the paint, 38-14, and off the bench, 15-4, and was 47.5 percent from the floor with MCLA shooting 30 percent from the floor.
McGahagan recorded her second double-double, in as many days, with a 16-point performance and grabbing 15 rebounds. Hackett led the team with 24 points while Himes put in seven with two assists and two steals.
Lucy Tremblay put up 21 points and was 4-for-6 behind the three-point arc for MCLA. Kait Chenevert had a strong showing on the glass with seven rebounds and 18 points for the Trailblazers.
Salisbury will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 6 as the Gulls travel to Eastern University for a 7 p.m., contest.