Updated: Mar 4, 2019
A historic season will continue for the Salisbury University men’s basketball team, as they received the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday.
The Sea Gulls were one of three teams from the Capital Athletic Conference to receive a bid to the big dance, with Christopher Newport University receiving the automatic bid with the CAC title. Runner-up York College also received an at-large bid.
CNU will face off against Albertus Magnus College, while York takes on DeSales University. Both games are scheduled for Friday, with tip-off set for 5:30 p.m.
The selection committee rewarded SU’s early-season resume. It held a 12-1 record over its first 13 games, including statement wins over No. 15 Johns Hopkins University and No. 16 Nichols College.
The Sea Gulls struggled in conference play this season, finishing with a 7-7 record over their final 14 games. A miraculous 20-point comeback in the first round of the CAC Tournament also could have been a key point in their resume, giving them at least one postseason victory. The Sea Gulls would fall in the semifinals to Christopher Newport University.
Salisbury will take on Baldwin Wallace University in its first-round matchup.
The Yellow Jackets finished the season with a 20-8 record and won the Ohio Athletic Conference despite being ranked fifth.
Baldwin Wallace was able to knock off Wilmington College (17-8), Capital University (20-6) and the University of Mount Union (22-6) to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Their leading scorer, senior guard Jay Battle, tallied 33 points in the OAC Championship game.
Battle ranked third in the OAC in points per game and earned a First-Team All-OAC nod for his performance this season. He also was named to the All-OAC Tournament Team and secured OAC Tournament MVP honors.
Fellow guard Michael Quiring has also contributed at a high level for this Yellow Jackets squad, starting all 28 games beside Battle and ranking second on the team with 10.4 points per game. These two have played a significant role in the team’s success.
The Salisbury offense has many different players that can contribute on the offensive side of the ball. However, there is no question that this offense begins and ends with senior guard Blair Davis.
Davis currently ranks second on the team in scoring with 14.3 per game. In conference games, when the pressure is the highest, Davis has averaged 17.9 points per game.
Alongside Davis, sophomore guard Gary Briddell has been excellent from three-point range. He currently ranks first on the team in three-point field goal percentage at 42.3 percent.
The Gulls have not won a first-round NCAA tournament game since 2015 with a 66-54 win over Eastern Connecticut State. They have lost their past two first round games in the past NCAA appearances. After missing the tourney last season, SU is back for the fourth time in five years.
Salisbury’s matchup against Baldwin Wallace University will be played at Max Ziel Gymnasium in Oswego, New York. Tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: Blair Davis brings the ball up the court against Frostburg State University. Feb. 19 (Marshall Haas image).