NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Salisbury University men's basketball team closed out one of the toughest parts of its schedule, concluding a run of three-straight games against ranked opponents, falling 56-47 to No. 18 Christopher Newport University, Wednesday evening at the Freeman Center in Newport News, Va.
Freshman Charles Porter led the Sea Gulls with 20 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the floor and 2-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc. The Gaithersburg, Md., native was the only Sea Gull to score in double digits.
Both teams struggled to get on track early in the contest, with neither team scoring in the first 4:52 of the game. With 6:50 gone by in the first half, Christopher Newport led 4-2, with the teams combining to shoot 3-for-23 from the floor. The Sea Gulls were 1-of-9 during that span and were never able to get going in the first half.
Each team continued to have their struggles in the first half, but Christopher Newport (8-1, 2-0 CAC) was able to pull ahead for a 28-8 lead at the half. The Captains finished the first 20 minutes 9-for-33 from the floor but were 6-of-7 from the foul line. Salisbury (2-4, 0-2 CAC) was 2-for-22 from the floor in the first half, including 0-for-9 from behind the three-point line. Christopher Newport was 4-of-12 on threes in the first half. The Sea Gulls were unable to capitalize when fouled by Christopher Newport, going 4-for-10 from the charity stripe in the first half.
The Captains outrebounded Salisbury 30-17 in the first half, including an 11-3 edge on the offensive boards. For the contest, Christopher Newport held a 54-37 rebounding advantage.
Salisbury committed seven turnovers in the first half, to the Captains' six, and Christopher Newport converted those turnovers into eight points, compared to the Sea Gulls' two points off turnovers. The Sea Gulls secured the ball more efficiently in the second half, only committing two turnovers in the second half, with the Captains handing the ball over seven times.
The Sea Gulls came out strong in the second half, eventually pulling within nine, at 46-37 with 4:08 remaining, when Porter hit a layup. The Sea Gulls continued to battle down the stretch, pulling within eight when senior Tim Harwood went strong to the hoop, hitting the basket and drawing a foul. The made free throw pulled the score to 48-40 with 2:18 left in the contest.
Salisbury continued to fight to the end, pulling closer to the Captains. With 76 seconds remaining, Porter made a pair of free throws to pull within five points at 50-45.
Freshman Gordon Jeter was held scoreless by the Captains but pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.
Junior Chris Viqueira had nine points for the Sea Gulls, with Harwood chipping in eight points in his return to the lineup.
Tra Benefield netted a game-high 23 points for the Captains. He was the only player for Christopher Newport to reach double digits, with both sides struggling to generate points on the evening.
Salisbury is next in action on Friday, December 28 against Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham in the Land of Magic Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. That will be the first of three contests on consecutive days for the Sea Gulls on their holiday trip.