SALISBURY — It was 70 degrees out Tuesday, but Salisbury’s fourth-quarter onslaught was a unstoppable avalanche was downright cold for a hurting West Rowan team.
Corban Usry hit an off-balance jumper at the end of the third quarter and it might as well have been the game-winner in a 63-46 Salisbury triumph. Usry’s swish catapulted a 22-0 run for the Hornets, who desperately needed to forget a lackadaisical night against Carson.
This game was the amnesia it needed.
“Given how out of sync and undisciplined we looked Friday night, tonight was a breath of fresh air,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “I think it’s an indication of where we could go. We haven’t arrived obviously but this was great.”
West led 39-35 late in the third quarter before it went scoreless for almost seven minutes as Salisbury went up and left the Falcons in the dust. Salisbury was too big and too focused to let another one slip away as it asserted itself by winning the fourth quarter 21-7. A young West squad felt overwhelmed.
“I felt like the grinch,” West coach Mike Gurley said. “That little 1-inch snowball starts rolling and it gets big.”
Salisbury’s Buster Hillie finished with a team-high 15 points and big men Tyler Petty (13 points) and Donnell Alexander (11 points) put together good nights as the Hornets moved to 2-1.
“I really appreciated the guys being so coachable,” Causby said. “We really felt like we had to play a different style of basketball than what we were accustomed to.”
Salisbury jumped out to a 6-0 lead and West trimmed it to 17-14 at the end of the first. The teams fought to a 29-all tie at halftime and West was in good shape, going up 36-33 on consecutive baskets by Tucker. Keion Adams hit two free throws and Tucker was there again on a three-pointer for a 39-35 edge. The run started on Tyler Petty’s basket and Jon Mark Petty put the Hornets up for keeps on a putback off the glass. Salisbury had possession in the final seconds and misfired on a long two-point try. Usry tracked down a long rebound and nailed a clean look from 15-feet to send the outdoor-themed student section into a craze. Salisbury led 42-39 with eight minutes left.
“That was a huge bucket that put us up three,” Causby said. “Corban had a good game tonight and same thing with Donnell Alexander and Buster.”
The Hornets scored the first 15 points of the fourth, going up double digits on Tyler Petty’s trey from the corner. Salisbury methodically drained the clock and added to its lead. Hillie’s layup capped the run at 57-42 and it was academic from there.
“Once we got a workable margin we were content with holding the ball up top and making them come out and play us,” Causby said.
Tucker finished with 16 points for the Falcons (0-3). Daisean Reddick had 10 points and Seth Martin had nine.
“It hurts us,” Gurley said. “But we’re going to learn from it and that’s all we can do right now.”
WEST ROWAN (46) — Tucker 16, Reddick 10, Martin 9, Blackwood 4, Gallagher 4, Avery 3, Hassard, Long, Hodzic, Linker, Rayner, Wilson.
SALISBURY(63) — Hillie 15, T. Petty 13, Alexander 11, Adams 8, Usry 6, Fazia 4, Troutman 2, J. Petty 2, Brown 2, Bledsoe, Young, Davis, Burges.
W. Rowan 14 15 10 7 — 46
Salisbury 17 12 13 21 — 63