VIRGINIA BEACH -- A 14-4 scoring run midway through the first half put No. 19 Virginia Wesleyan College's Marlins into a lead they never lost against Salisbury University's Sea Gulls on Saturday at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.
Virginia Wesleyan went on to post a 38-34 at halftime and shot a torrid 66.7% from the field in the second half en route to posting a 79-65 non-conference victory. Senior Greg Montgomery (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne) extended an impressive start to the season by leading the Marlins with 23 points, the second highest total of his career.
Montgomery was one of four in double figures for the Marlins (3-0), who hit 61.2% from the floor, including 66.7% in the second half.
Salisbury (2-2) came out firing and created an early lead, but saw it start to disappear when VWC junior Nick Doyle (Franklin/Southampton) sandwiched a pair of field goals around two free throws byBrandon Mitchell (Albany, Ga./Westover) to move the Marlins into a 13-10 lead.
Kyle Savercool (Silver Spring, Md./Good Counsel) tallied for SU to get the Gulls back on the scoreboard, but seniors Cameron Owens (Centreville/Centreville) and Greg Montgomery (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne) took advantage of Salisbury turnovers to produce scores that extended the Marlins' run into a 21-14 lead with 9:25 remaining in the first half.
Justin Witmer (Rockville, Md./Magruder) and Gordon Jeter (Easton, Md./Easton), the later the Capital Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year last season, emerged with scoring for Salisbury to keep the Sea Gulls close, but Virginia Wesleyan answered with timely scoring, including a triple from senior Breven Lyons (Newport News/Warwick) and a laypup by sophomore Aaron Sturdifen (Chesapeake/Hickory) down the stretch to maintain the lead.
Virginia Wesleyan extended its halftime advantage quickly in the second half when Owens hit a three-pointer and added a couple of three throws seconds later. Salisbury was sparked by the driving play of Charles Porter (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard) for points to keep the Gulls close, but big three-pointers by Owens, Lyons and sophomore Tim Jones (Richmond/Henrico) moved VWC into double-digit leads. Jones' trey gave VWC a 61-50 advantage with 9:20 remaining to be played.
Virginia Wesleyan posted its largest lead at the 4:58 mark when Lyons nailed his third triple to give the Marlins a 72-57 advantage.
Montgomery hit 10-of-17 field goal attempts for VWC, driving through the Sea Gulls for numerous scores. Owens and Lyons sparked the Marlins' outside game with a trio of triples each and Mitchell and Montgomery led the board game with a dame-high nine and eight rebounds each. Owens, who hit 6-of-8 field goals, finished with 19 points, Lyons connected for 13, and Jones tallied 10. Lyons led the Marlins with five assists and three steals.
Salisbury also had four players in double-figures, led by Witmer with 19 points and Porter with 15. Wyatt Smith (Abingdon, Md./John Carroll) and Jeter finished with 11 points each.
Virginia Wesleyan continued to hit well from three-point range, nailing 8-of-14 attempts overall. Salisbury attempted 16 treys and hit five, led by Witmer with four.
The Marlins return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 25, motoring to Fayetteville, N.C. to face the Monarchs of Methodist University in non-conference play beginning at 7 p.m.