Salisbury University men’s and women’s basketball were both eliminated in the semifinal rounds of their respective conference tournaments, but one squad has been awarded a shot at redemption.
The Lady Gulls will continue their 2021-22 season after being unveiled as one of the nation’s top-64 teams in the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket released Monday.
Following the squad’s cross-country loss to University of California, Santa Cruz in its second game of the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, SU’s postseason depended on being named one of the NCAA Tournament’s 20 at-large Pool C bids.
The undefeated Christopher Newport University Captains earned the C2C’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as conference champions. SU opened its postseason renaissance with an overall record of 20-6.
SU’s senior stars will now extend their athletic careers in the maroon and gold, led by forward Kaylee Otlowski who orchestrated the Sea Gulls’ offensive attack against the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs by netting 16 points as part of her 10th double-double of the season.
The Lady Gulls will jumpstart the revived campaign Friday, facing Baldwin Wallace University in the team’s first NCAA Tournament action since the 2014-15 season.
The 14th-ranked Baldwin Wallace Yellowjackets were crowned Ohio Athletic Conference champions after a 21-4 regular season campaign and claimed an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Gettysburg College will host the Salisbury-Baldwin Wallace matchup, with tip off scheduled for 5 p.m. in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Lady Gulls’ male counterparts, however, witnessed the end of their 2021-22 season on the hardwood immediately following the team’s abrupt exit in the C2C Tournament.
SU suffered a close 67-60 defeat to second-seeded Mary Washington College on Friday, with a late Sea Gull surge falling just short of erasing a 16-point Eagles lead to end the game and, subsequently, the team’s season.
All-C2C First Team guard Gary Briddell notched 11 points in the contest, while fellow fifth-year guard Johnny Fierstein paced the Sea Gulls with seven rebounds and four assists.
After finishing with a below-.500 record of 10-12 on the year, a young Salisbury roster will enter the 2022-23 season seeking to replace the production of departing costars Briddell and Fierstein, namely through sophomore standout and All-C2C Second Team forward Jordan Oates. Oates ranked 21st across Division III in rebounding during the 2021 regular season.
The 2022 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament is also slated to begin Friday without the Sea Gulls in its 64-team bracket.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Brad Boardman.