Updated: Feb 12, 2019
On Saturday, the Salisbury University men’s basketball team honored their senior members before the opening tipoff.
However, just two of these honorees were present.
Salisbury also honored Ferguson during their season-opener with the playing of “O Canada” in addition to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Seniors Blair Davis and Chase Kumor have been an integral part of the program for the duration of their years here, and they look back fondly on their time with the university.
“It’s been a blessing. Coming from my other school, I wasn’t happy. I came here, and just everything, the academics, the ball, campus life, everything," Davis said. "It’s honestly what I could ask for, what I could dream for in a school… I’m definitely gonna miss it.”
These two seniors have played huge roles in the success of the team, but they also have provided consistency for the younger players on the roster and helped to lead by example.
“Their leadership has been outstanding...throughout everything that’s been going on, they’re the ones that we can send you to and to give us motivation every day to do this for the other guys," sophomore guard Gary Briddell said. "Blair, you know, he’s great with making everything easier for everyone around him on the court. And Chase, Chase is just that guy that makes you wanna go hard every time you go out on the floor.”
“It’s been special playing with these guys. I’ve been on a lot of great teams here and had plenty of experiences," Kumor said. "This team definitely has come together the most and has been a lot of fun for all different kinds of reasons… it’s been a real special ride with these guys.”
The Sea Gulls (17-6, 7-5 CAC) found a way to “come together” yet again following the ceremony as they were able to edge out a tough victory over Southern Virginia University, 84-75.
This competitive Capital Athletic Conference matchup subjected fans to 11 ties and 13 lead changes as neither team was truly able to pull away until late in the game. The largest lead held by either team through 38 minutes was held by the Knights (4-19, 0-12 CAC), as they were able to build a 17-9 lead with around 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
With 1:24 left to play in the game, however, madness ensued. Tyler McCreadie, junior center for the Knights, blocked a layup attempt from Davis and corralled the rebound. As SVU moved on the transition to offense, junior forward Lucas Martin ripped the ball from Knights junior guard Alec Johnson.
While all this was happening Briddell had yet to get back on defense. The reason? He lost his shoe.
He stopped to put his shoe back on in the backcourt, which conveniently left him wide open at mid-court for a quick pass from Martin. Knights' senior guard Kellen Winslow was the sole defender in the way of an easy two points for SU. As Briddell went up for the layup, Winslow had set himself up trying to get a charge call.
But it was Briddell who would come away with the call, earning the basket and the foul.
“It was very crazy…I just realized it’s always the same shoe that comes off, my left shoe that comes off," Briddell said. "I don’t know what it is, I’m about to start super-gluing my shoe on my foot or something.”
This hectic sequence was the exact moment that would seal victory for the Gulls.
Following the play, Winslow was called for a technical foul while arguing with the referees about the foul. SVU head coach Craig Winslow followed that up with two technicals of his own and an ejection.
Sophomore guard Mike Ward knocked down all four technical free throws and Briddell topped it off with one of his own, completing the rare seven-point play giving Salisbury an 83-73 lead with 1:09 remaining.
“I feel like that was just something that we needed, because the whole game we were just not ourselves,” Briddell said. “I feel like we needed some type of unorthodox thing to happen in order for us to get our moods up, and I feel like that was one of the plays that was definitely very key in the rest of the game.”
“Gary’s just an energetic guy, and I saw him go for his shoe and I was screaming at him to go play defense and sure enough the ball went right back down to him and we scored the layup," Head Coach Brian McDermott said. "You know, fluke things like that happen from time-to-time and that one just went our way, and Gary’s a phenomenal player and he’s going to finish it at the rim every time.”
The lead would hold as Salisbury claimed victory despite shooting just 38.5% from the field and 30% from 3-PT range. Martin led the way for the Gulls, tallying 17 points and six rebounds. For the Knights, it was guard Jamier Cross leading the charge with 17 points, two assists and two steals.
Salisbury will host Christopher Newport University in their final home game of the season on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: Blair Davis dribbles at the top of the key against Southern Virginia (KB Mensah images).