SALISBURY — With its playoff lives at stake, Salisbury had to be alert coming into Monday’s first round of the Central Carolina Conference Tournament.
West Davidson caught the Hornets napping with a long-winded, deliberate pace in a 53-42 win to advance.
The No. 4 seed Hornets had won five of their last six CCC games but took a step backwards in the tournament opener.
“I thought we were as bad as we’ve been all season,” Salisbury coach Jason Causby said. “It was just an odd night. I don’t really have an explanation for it.”
Now, Salisbury must hope West Davidson doesn’t win the tournament so it can claim one of the league’s four playoff spots. No. 5 seed West moves on to play Central Davidson at Lexington Wednesday.
West hit 7 of its first 8 shots from the field and got a game-high 21 points from Zach Queen. The Green Dragons shortened the game by swinging the ball around and looking for, and usually getting, good shots. Defensively, the box-and-one scheme never let the Hornets get in a flow.
“I thought defensively we played terrific,” West coach Derrick Stokes said. “This is five games in a row that we’ve held a conference opponents to 40 or 30 points.”
Salisbury scored 14 points in the first quarter but managed just 15 in the next two quarters combined.
Keion Adams was Salisbury’s high scorer for the third-straight game, finishing with 13 points.
Salisbury’s Buster Hillie capped a steal with a transition layup to put the Hornets up 12-11 before West Davidson embarked on a 7-0 spurt and led 19-14 at the end of the first quarter.
A trey from Queen and an open-court layup by Taylor Beck pushed the Dragons’ edge to 28-21 at halftime. Donnell Alexander’s only three points of the game came on a and-one at the end of the third quarter as Salisbury trailed 34-29 with eight minutes to play.
Adams scooped in a layup to get Salisbury (9-16) as close as it would at 34-31 to start the fourth. West (10-14, 5-6) scored the next eight points to gain separation. Andrew Kahn sunk a layup and drove to the hoop for another two points on consecutive possessions. Tyler Grooms went under the basket for a showman’s layup and David Monk canned two free throws one trip later and the Dragons had control up 42-31 with 4:58 to play. Taylor Beck drew a charge on a drive by Adams on the ensuing trip.
“We didn’t come out prepared,” Hillie said. “It was an uphill battle from the get-go.”
Corban Usry almost cut the deficit to seven on a running one-handed shot but Tyler Petty tipped the ball in above the cylinder to void the basket with 2:40 left.
“When West Davidson can run their stuff they’re tough to beat,” Causby said. “It was a bad time to have a bad night.”
WEST DAVIDSON (53) —Queen 21, Teague 9, Grooms 8, Beck 4, Monk 4, Kahn 4, Gobble 3, Taylor.
SALISBURY (42) — Adams 13, Fazia 6, T. Petty 5, Hillie 5, Troutman 4, Usry 4, Alexander 3, J. Petty 2, Brown.
W. Davidson 19 9 6 19 — 53
Salisbury 14 7 8 13 — 42