SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The third-seeded Salisbury University women's basketball team saw its run at the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) Tournament end two games short of glory, as the Sea Gulls fell to the second-seeded UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, 66-53, in the semifinal round on Friday afternoon at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Sea Gulls again found themselves in an early hole, missing their first six shots and spotting the Banana Slugs a 13-0 lead in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter. Amanda Inserra capped the initial UCSC flourish with a three-pointer at the 6:32 mark.
- Kaylee Otlowski got Salisbury on the board with a pair of free throws at the 6:17 mark and hit SU's first field goal a minute later to make it 15-4. From there the Sea Gulls kept pace with the tournament hosts; Jada Welbon hit a layup in the opening quarter's closing seconds that made it 27-12 UCSC.
- Down 35-16 at the 5:06 mark of the second quarter, Salisbury went on a run to shave eight points off its deficit by halftime. Welbon and Emily Dilger hit back-to-back jumpers, then after a pair of free throws from Welbon, Lauren Fortescue drove inside and converted a three-point play, getting the Sea Gulls within 35-25 with 2:30 until halftime.
- The Banana Slugs settled in from there, using two sets of free throws and a Kaylee Murphy field goal to go back up 41-28. Hailey Ader sank a layup with 20 seconds until halftime, and the Sea Gulls found themselves down 41-30 at the midway point.
- Otlowski sank a layup in the opening moments of the third quarter, moving Salisbury within single digits for the first time since the game's early minutes. Murphy hit a layup to get the UCSC lead back to 11, but Fortescue answered with her own layup to make it 43-34 at the 7:47 mark.
- Murphy hit a pair of foul shots that capped a 7-0 run and rebuild the Banana Slug advantage to 50-34 at the 5:36 mark. From there the Sea Gulls put together a seven-point swing of their own, as Otlowski hit two field goals and Fortescue converted another and-one opportunity to get it back to 50-41 with 2:46 to go.
- The pendulum soon swung back the other way, though, as UCSC finished the third on a 6-1 run. Divine Taylor wrapped up the push with a buzzer-beating layup that made it 56-42 Banana Slugs after three.
- Neither side could find the hoop for nearly five minutes to open the fourth quarter, with UCSC managing only one free throw and Salisbury a lone field goal from Fortescue at the 5:17 mark to get it to 57-44. The Banana Slugs finally got a bucket on a Tess Oakley-Stilson layup with 4:19 to go, making it 59-44.
- The Sea Gulls used one final push for a 7-1 run that got it back to single digits. Welbon scored five straight on a trip to the line and three-point play, and Fortescue converted a layup with two minutes left to make it 60-51.
- Salisbury forced a stop on the defensive end and had a chance to get closer, but Dilger missed a layup and the Banana Slugs got a second-chance layup from Murphy that put the game on ice at 62-51 inside the final minute.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Kaylee Otlowski registered her 10th double-double in 26 games this season, tying for the team lead with 16 points (6-of-14) and hauling in 11 boards. Otlowski now has 31 double-doubles in her Sea Gull career; she ranks 19th in program history in total points (1,043) and eighth in total rebounds (770).
- Lauren Fortescue matched Otlowski with 16 points (6-of-16), plus eight rebounds and two assists.
- Jada Welbon gave SU three double-digits scorers, netting 13 points (4-of-11, 5-of-5 FT). Otlowski, Fortescue and Welbon combined for 45 of SU's 53 points on the day.
- Emily Dilger and Hailey Ader netted four points each, accounting for the rest of Salisbury's scoring output.
- The Sea Gulls shot 31.6 percent (18-of-57) for the game and went just 1-of-10 (10 percent) from long range. SU made all but one of its free throws, going 16-of-17 (94.1 percent) from the line.
- Salisbury managed eight steals and won the turnover battle 16-15.
UC SANTA CRUZ GAME NOTES
- Kaylee Murphy led a balanced Banana Slug attack with 17 points (5-of-17) and went 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. Murphy registered her own double-double by hauling in 14 rebounds.
- Ashley Kowack went for 15 points and eight boards, while Amanda Inserra added 14 points and six rebounds.
- The Banana Slugs shot 39.7 percent (23-of-58) for the game, including 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from distance and 14-of-19 (73.7 percent) from the free throw line.
- UCSC outrebounded Salisbury 44-34, including 15-11 on the offensive glass.
- With a 20-6 record to their name, the Sea Gulls now await their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be revealed on Monday at 2:30 p.m. during the Division III women's basketball selection show on NCAA.com.
- Salisbury is seeking one of 20 at-large Pool C bids for schools that did not win the automatic bid from their respective conference tournaments. Earlier this month the Sea Gulls were ranked eighth in the NCAA Region V poll.
Salisbury University is a proud member of NCAA Division III with primary membership in the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference, along with the New Jersey Athletic Conference for football and the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Conference for men's and women's swimming. With over 500 student-athletes in 21 varsity sports, SU is recognized as one of the most competitive intercollegiate athletics programs regardless of division, and dedicated coaches and staff that foster excellence on-and-off the field. The Sea Gulls have celebrated 22 team national championships, 24 individual national champions, 186 conference championships and 41 Academic All-Americans.
To learn more about the tradition of excellence with Sea Gull Athletics, visit www.SUSeaGulls.com or on social media @SUSeaGulls.