MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan used a bombs-away approach to level visiting Salisbury on Tuesday.
The Falcons converted 12 three-point baskets, including five in the decisive fourth quarter, and collected a 71-59 non-conference victory.
“We’re becoming a team,” junior Seth Martin said after West (4-10 overall) won its second straight. “It feels good. We’re having fun both on and off the court.”
Martin threw a long-distance party for the Falcons and their faithful by knocking down six 3-balls and scoring a career-high 26 points. Four of them came in the final period when he netted 16 points and the helped the Falcons crack open a close game.
“Seth is a key 3-point shooter for us,” teammate Celexus Long said. “What he did tonight explains it all. He came through every time we needed him to.”
Losing coach Jason Causby was obviously disappointed after Salisbury (4-9) squandered a seven-point third-quarter lead and lost its fourth straight contest.
“Once they got the momentum it just threw us out of sync and we couldn’t get back in it,” he said. “We’re kind of snakebit in a way. Balls don’t always bounce your way, but when you’re losing everything is magnified. Right now we need confidence any way we can get it.”
The Hornets seemed to do everything they needed to for the first two-and-a-half quarters. They shared the ball on offense, hit open shots and controlled the glass. And when Tyler Petty reeled in an offensive rebound and musled up for a putback late in the first half, they had 34-29 lead. It stretched to 41-34 when Donnell Alexander scored on a fastbreak layup with 4:52 remaining in the third period.
“They hit us in the jaw a couple of times tonight,” said West coach Mike Gurley. “Not literally, but figuratively. — and we responded. We didn’t drop our heads. They let me coach them. They took the correction. They kept fighting and the shots started falling. We got better.”
They got better thanks to Martin and Long. First, Long — the sophomore guard who totaled 20 points — hit three straight baskets and narrowed the deficit to 41-40 with a well-placed bank shot from the left side. Then rugged reserve Chris Hassard’s layup put West ahead late in the third quarter. “We were just getting open shots and making them,” Long said.
The fourth quarter belonged to Martin. A six-foot sniper, he drained home-run balls from the left side, right side and top of the key in a dizzying display. By the time Salisbury could get a handle on the situation, the Falcons had surged ahead 63-52 midway through the period.
“What was good about that,” Gurley said, “was that a lot of times it was the extra pass that got the three open. We’d drive in, make a kickout pass and then make an extra pass — and that second guy was usually wide open.”
Causby felt the Hornets should have smothered West when it had the chance. “We were in control when we were up (seven),” he said after SHS lost for the sixth time in its last seven outings. “But we missed two blockouts, they got rebounds and hit threes off both of them. That was kind of the swing right there.”
It’s a swing the Falcons were glad to receive. “Win one game and move on to the next,” Long said. “We just have to stay focused.”
SALISBURY (59) — Adams 14, Usry 10, Alexander 10, Fazia 7, T.Petty 6, Hillie 6, Troutman 4, Brown 2, Young, J.Petty,
WEST ROWAN (71) — Martin 26, Long 20, Reddick 13, Hassard 4, Tucker 4, Gabriel 2, Morrison 2, Blackwood, Gallagher, Parks, Phillips.
Salisbury 12 22 13 12 — 59
W. Rowan 15 16 17 23 — 71