Captains Cruise Past Salisbury With Strong First Half, 77-63

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SALISBURY,  Md. -- Powered behind a strong opening half, the Christopher Newport men's basketball team cruised to an out-of-conference win over Salisbury University (3-1), 77-63. The Captains improve to 2-0 and will return to action this weekend as they host the CNU/Point Plaza Invitational. 

CNU shot 53.3% from the field in the first 20 minutes, including a 7-of-13 performance from beyond the arc (53.8%). Meanwhile, the Captains defense held Salisbury to just 20.8% shooting on 5-of-24 shooting, including an 0-for-11 line from deep.  

The hot shooting was led by junior Tra Benefield and sophomore Mike Cherry, who each knocked down three trey's in the opening stanza. Benefield led the way with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while Cherry added 12 on 3-of-7. Cherry also had a team-high four rebounds and three assists in the frame.

Trent Epps was 4-for-5 from the floor with 11 points for Salisbury, but he was the only one with anything going as only one other Sea Gull player managed to make a bucket. The struggles led to a big 25-point lead at the break for the Captains, as the road team led 44-19. 

After halftime, Christopher Newport cooled from beyond the arc, hitting just two on nine attempts, but still managed a 43.3% shooting percentage in the second half. After hitting two shots in the first minute, the Captains went cold, scoring just two points over the next seven minutes. Salisbury closed to within 12 before Benefield stopped the big run with a long three-pointer with 12:22 on the clock.

That would be as close as the Sea Gulls could get, as CNU held off any more Salisbury runs by working the ball inside. Reigning CAC Player of the Week Travon Vann knocked down a trio of three's to lead the way in the second half, with 13 points. In the game, he scored 17 while going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Epps finished with a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds for the Sea Gulls, while Elijah Gore added 12 points. 

The Captains got double figures from Benefield and Cherry, with 18 and 19 points, respectively. Rookie Patrick Fehl played solid minutes, adding eight points, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Senior point guard Paul Meredith managed five assists and five rebounds off the bench. 

CNU improves to 2-0 on the season and will now return home to take on Wesley College Saturday in the opening round of the 2012 CNU/Point Plaza Invitational. Tip off in the first game between Birmingham-Southern and John Carroll will be at 2 pm, immediately followed by the Captains and Wolverines at 4 pm.