Opening the 2011 season on Jan. 3, the Seahawks began with a rocky start, losing to Guilford College (57-61), but gained momentum with three straight wins against Marymount University (74-65), University of Mary Washington (91-65), and Frostburg State University (88-60).
Despite a brief setback with a loss against Wesley College, the Seahawks continued their successful season with a game against Salisbury University.
Flying in the top 25 of the D3 conference with a record of 14-4, the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team defeated long-time rival Salisbury Sea Gulls with a score of 81 to 74 last Wednesday, Jan. 19 in an impressive home game.
“At this point in the season we are really trying to play some good basketball,” said Head Coach Christopher Harney. “We need to focus on correcting our mistakes and getting ready for the tournaments. We were coming off a tough loss against Wesley and we really needed a rebound off of Salisbury, who was good. Salisbury has always been a tough game for us. I was a lot happier with the results of that game.”
Coach Harney was honored at the Salisbury game for his 100th career win.
The game started with a quick twist, as Salisbury’s Chris McGrew scored a quick layup 23 seconds into the game only to have St. Mary’s pull ahead 50 seconds later with a three-point shot by junior James Davenport.
After gaining the lead, St. Mary’s pulled farther ahead, dominating the first half with another three-pointer by senior point guard Alex Franz, a shot from first-year Christian MacAuley, and another three point shot by Franz which put St. Mary’s ahead by six points.
The Sea Gulls attempted to put ahead with two missed shots, but MacAuley caught a rebound and put up a jumper giving St. Mary’s an eight point lead on Salisbury.
Five minutes in, sophomore Chris Hutchinson stole the ball and passed to Franz, who put up another three points, giving Chris his second assist of the game and bringing the score to St. Mary’s 19, Salisbury 8.
A few minutes later Franz threw up another three, and eight minutes and 30 seconds into the game junior Mikey Fitzpatrick entertained the crowd with a dunk. Later in the game MacAuley gave the crowd another entertaining performance with yet another dunk. St. Mary’s closed the first half of the game up by eight points, the score 38-30.
“We have great chemistry,” Harney said. “These guys are really patient and willing to sacrifice their stardom to find the right player that’s open. In contrast Salisbury struggles with that – there were some guys forcing shots.”
The second half of the game started with Salisbury making two foul shots and a layup to catch up. Franz managed to score another three, with two successful foul shots followed by Fitzpatrick. Eight minutes into the second half, senior Sam Burum got another two points putting St. Mary’s ahead by 15 with a score of 54-39.
The last eight minutes of the game the Sea Gulls fought hard to catch up, scoring six points bringing St. Mary’s down to an 11-point lead. Franz took a foul with three minutes left and made one foul shot to bring St. Mary’s ahead by 12, only to have the team struck back down to a 10 point lead with a layup by Salisbury’s Chris McGrew.
Pulling the team ahead once again, Franz made two foul shots with one minute and 31 seconds left on the clock, only to have Salisbury respond once again with a layup by McGrew.
The last minute and 31 seconds consisted of St. Mary’s and Salisbury trading fouls and foul shots—Salisbury trying to gain the lead, and St. Mary’s clinging to what was won. With eight seconds left on the clock McGrew threw one shot, but despite the extra two points it was not enough for the victory. St. Mary’s defeated their rival 81-74, a well-earned seven point lead.
“We pride ourselves on winning at home,” junior shooting guard Deon Queen said. “The fans always help us get over the humps.”
“I think the Salisbury game was a great game” Harney added. “Salisbury is very good and their record doesn’t really reflect their team right now. They’ve got size and great players. They’re not that far from us on paper as far as talent goes.
I think the game last Wednesday was a good reflection of the off-paper differences. Now we are just trying to focus on these conference games, and they are tough. Its like every game is a war, you really don’t know what is going to happen.”
The Seahawks continued their victory streak in the following two conference games with a victories over Stevenson University (86-55) and the University of Mary Washington (69-58).