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Falcon comeback falls short

With the way Monday’s game against Wilson started, Salisbury was fortunate to find itself with a chance late in the fourth quarter.

However, the Warriors were able to close out the game with a few key plays from one of their top players.

After getting within two points midway through the fourth quarter, Wilson’s Robbie Swiatek scored six straight points as part of a 12-3 spurt to end the game for a 54-43 victory on Monday night.

“We had our opportunities despite how that game started for us,” Salisbury head coach Jason Weaver said. “We battled back and it was ugly, but we did. It was a two-point game with four or so minutes to go.”

The Falcons got within 42-40 when Quintin Stephens drove to the basket midway through the fourth quarter. It was the closest they had gotten since Wilson led 9-8 in the first quarter.

But Swiatek had an answer. On the ensuing possession, he drilled his second three-pointer of the game to give Wilson some breathing room at 45-40. Then, after he missed the second of two free throws, Swiatek came up with a steal and layup that put the host Warriors in front 48-40 with 1:32 remaining.

“We just have too many turnovers,” Weaver said. “We are too careless with the basketball, and that is something we have to get better with. This is a tough place to play on the road. We had a good start to the season, but these are the games that we have to be able to step up. We have to be able to handle the ball better.”

Salisbury (3-2 overall; 3-1 in Colonial League) got within 48-42 moments later, but Wilson (2-1 overall and in league) held on for the win.

Early on it was all Wilson. The Warriors jumped out to a 9-0 lead after Swiatek’s steal and layup early in the opening frame. He scored nine of his 20 points in the opening quarter.

But Salisbury answered. After Patrick Foley hit a three-pointer to cut into that lead, Tommy Sylvester drilled one from straight on to cut his team’s deficit to 9-8.

“I can remember that we had one uncontested layup,” Weaver said. “They had seven or eight. That is the difference in the game. Defensively we worked hard. Swiatek had 32 against Bangor on Saturday. He started off hot, but then Tommy got a little tighter on him and we gave a little bit better help.”

Wilson’s pressure, however, was the deciding factor after the Warriors gained a bit of separation at 13-10 after the first quarter. Several turnovers led to transition points for Wilson, which grew its lead to 33-21 by halftime and 37-23 early in the third quarter.

“It was just us not being strong enough with the basketball,” Weaver said. “This is something that we’ve been preaching all the time with our guys. We have to value the ball more. We can’t bust our butts on defense and then give it away 10 seconds later.”

Swiatek led all scorers with 20 points for Wilson. Sam Brown added 14, while Jihad Randge added 10.

Quintin Stephens and Jack Frankenfield each scored eight points for the Falcons.

Salisbury travels to Palmerton on Wednesday for a 6:45 p.m. tipoff.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZQuintin Stephens lays up a shot durin Salisbury's game at Wilson Monday.