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Salisbury Stuns Spartans in CAC Quarterfinals

YORK, PA-The Salisbury University Sea Gulls posted a shocking 76-71 victory over the top seeded York College Spartans in the quarterfinal round of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament on Tuesday evening at the Grumbacher Center. The stellar Spartan season comes to a close with a mark of 18-8 while the Sea Gulls, the tournament’s eighth seed, improve to 7-19 overall and earn a spot in the CAC semifinals. The Sea Gulls will travel to St. Mary’s, a winner over Wesley on Tuesday, on Thursday night in the semifinals.

The Spartans never seemed to get on track from the beginning. York settled for perimeter jump shots as 10 of their first 11 shots were threes. Senior All-American Chad McGowan (Dallastown, Pa./Dallastown) was limited to just three first half shots as the Gulls collapsed on the Spartan big man, consistently sending a number of defenders at him, forcing him to kick the ball to the perimeter where the Spartans struggled to make shots.

The first half saw the Spartans take an early 16-10 lead despite their shooting woes. The Sea Gulls scored the next seven points to take a 17-16 lead. The Gulls maintained their advantage through the next nine minutes of the half before York recaptured the lead on a pair of McGowan free throws with just over two minutes left. After a Dylan Hoffman (York, Pa/Dallastown) jumper and a pair of free throws from Greg Palmer, the Spartans took a 32-31 lead to the break.

The Spartans came out of the break and quickly pushed the lead to 36-31. A Palmer three foreshadowed things to come as the Gulls grabbed the momentum and never let it go. After Palmer’s three, Gary Ward drilled another triple to give the guests a 37-36 lead with 17:12 left in the game. York regained the lead on a McGowan lay up and the Spartans held onto that advantage until Palmer hit a lay up with 14:42, putting the Gulls up 45-44. The lead would change hands five more times over the next seven minutes and York took their final lead of the game, 58-57, on a pair of McGowan free throws with 8:52 left in regulation. Brandon Abney tied the game with a free throw and gave the Gulls a 60-58 lead with a lay up. After Levi Winters (Manchester, Pa./Northeastern) tied the game with a jumper with 7:27 left, Palmer hit a three and followed that with a jumper to give the Gulls a 65-60 lead with 6:34 left. The two teams continued to battle as Salisbury pushed the lead to seven before the Spartans their way back into the game. York cut the lead to two on a Winters three with 3:24 left in the game as the Wolf Gymnasium crowd came to life. Palmer responded by hitting a pair of free throws but McGowan converted a lay up, which turned out to be the final basket of his tremendous career, with 1:20 left to cut the lead to 72-70. Ward pushed the Gull lead back to four with a lay up and foul but he could not extend the lead to five as he missed the free throw and McGowan collected the rebound. The Spartans got fouled but senior Nate Lankford (York, Pa./West York) was only able to split the pair as York trailed by three with 54 seconds left. York got a stop on the ensuing Salisbury possession but a steal by Sean Whittaker sealed the Spartans’ fate with eight seconds left. Whittaker was fouled and made both free throws, icing the game for Salisbury and giving the Sea Gulls one of the biggest upsets in CAC tournament history.

The Sea Gulls placed four players in double figures led by Palmer as the sophomore poured in 23 points and notched 10 rebounds for the double-double. He was 8-for-14 from the floor including 3-of-6 from three. Palmer was also a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Abney chipped in with 14 points and three rebounds while Jonas Vaitkus and Whittaker each had ten.

McGowan closed out his amazing career with 24 points and 11 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the year. He finished his career with 1,980 points, good for second on the all-time list. He was 8-for-12 from the floor and he made eight of his free throw attempts. Winters added 20 points and two rebounds in his 39 minutes of work. He was 7-for-14 from the floor and 4-for-8 from three. Lankford was the only other Spartan in double figures with 10 points while he added three rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 43.6% from the floor and 21.7% (5-for-23) from three. That three point percentage was their second worst of the season and went against the trend of their recent performance behind the arc. The green and white also struggled from the stripe, something that has hampered them all season. York finished the game shooting 18-for-31 from the stripe.

Conversely, Salisbury was strong at the line, nailing 15-of-20 for the game while they also were strong from deep as they went 7-for-20 (35%). Salisbury finished the game shooting 45.8% from the floor.

York out-rebounded the Gulls 36-36 but both team had 10 second-chance points and Salisbury held a slight two point edge on points in the paint.

The loss closes out an impressive chapter in the history of the men’s basketball program. Over the last four years, the Spartans have won three regular season CAC championships, one tournament title, made two NCAA Tournament appearances, and one Final Four appearance. The Spartans are a stellar 87-26 over the past four years. York bids a fond farewell to McGowan and Chris Folland (Sykesville, Md./Century), the Spartans two four-year players while Winters and Lankford also contributed to the Spartans’ success over the last two years.

GAME BOX

Chad McGowan Photo courtesy of Eric Linsley?

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