Basketball teams start CAC strong

Early wins put the Captains Basketball teams in first in the CAC

Both basketball teams at Christopher Newport University have been very successful in recent years with the women’s team finishing outside the top two in the conference only once in the last 14 years and the men’s team finishing first in the conference each of the last four years. 

The regular seasons are already over halfway finished as colder weather is finally upon us, but both sides are just heating up as they are headed into conference play. 

Coincidentally, the women’s and men’s teams both share the same record of 14 – 4 and are undefeated in the conference.

Two of the losses for the Lady Captains’ came against #10 Messiah College and #1 Tufts University, falling just five points shy of brining the #1 ranked Jumbos to overtime. 

The other two marks against the Lady Captains happened in Raleigh, North Carolina against William and Peace University and Meredith College, coming up short by only three points against the latter opponent. 

Since that loss to Tufts University, the Lady Captains have been on an undefeated hot streak of six wins, including three conference tilts. On that run, they have held an average margin of victory of 18.5 points. 

The Lady Captains have had multiple offensive showcases this season including two games where they racked up triple digits on the scoreboard and four other matchups when they scored point totals in the nineties. Throughout the season, #1 Jessica Foster has made her home behind the three point arc, sinking 32 so far this season, a team high, and is one of the top five point scorers for the team. 

When it comes to the charity stripe, Freshman #32 Anaya Simmons is a frequent flyer, registering 68 shots from the line and converting on 47. 

She also plays a physical game on the court and has snagged 66 offensive rebounds for second chance opportunities. #15 Sondra Fan has the second highest total of field goals, three pointers and free throws made in each of the categories.

The Lady Captains have found a lot of success with their pairing of strong offense with stingy defense to contrast on the other side of the ball. Throughout their 18 contests, they have forced, on average, over 30 turnovers each game thanks to their 17.1 steals per game. 

Thus far, the defense has been headlined by #2 Julia Ng and #55 Natalie Terwilliger. Ng, who has started every game this season and leads the team in minutes, has taken 59 defensive rebounds for herself, including her season single game high of eight in the contest against Meredith. She has also forced 28 turnovers via steals across the season. 

Terwilliger has 64 defensive rebounds to her name and leads the team in the category. On the other side of the ball, Terwilliger also makes her presence known and is a true end to end player. 

Just three points shy of totaling 200, she averages over 11 points per game, shooting at almost 45 percent from the field and barely under 75 percent at the line. Terwilliger leads her team in field goals made with 78 and is second only to Fan in terms of total points scored.

In the Freeman Center, the home fans have cheered their team on to an undefeated record of five wins and zero losses, including an overtime thriller against Randolph-Macon College. 

On home floor, the Lady Captains have averaged 84 points and with at least three more Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) games taking place in the Freeman Center, they are poised for a solid ranking by the time the CAC tournament rolls around, on paper at least. 

With only three upperclassmen and just one senior on the squad, the Lady Captains have a team full of youth which bodes well for the next few seasons in addition to the success they have already experiences this year. 

After dropping the first matchup of the season by four points to Johns Hopkins University, the Men’s Basketball team responded with six wins in a row before hitting a rough spell. 

During that patch, the Captains would falter in three of the next four games by an average of ten points. In the following contest, the Captains responded by nearly dropping 100 points against Bethany College and Wesley College to win the Holiday Inn Captains Shootout, scoring 96 and 97 points respectively. 

The Captains would also go on to win the next five games as they entered conference play, once again putting 97 on the board against conference rivals, the University of Mary Washington. 

Like the women’s team, the men’s program is also undefeated in conference action.With four home conference games remaining and over an 88 win percentage in the Freeman Center, once again on paper, the Captains are set up for success in the postseason.

The offense is led by #20 Jason Aigner and his 74 field goals combined with 55 three pointers. Following in his footsteps from the field are Senior #4 Dalon McHugh II and freshman #45 Ian Anderson with 70 and 66 field goals each respectively.Aside from Aigner, only #30 Adrian Beasley comes close to catching his tally in threes but still sits over 20 behind at 31 three pointers. 

Anderson, coming off the bench, is a genuine difference maker on the floor as he leads the team in free throws made, 35, and third in total points scored with 171. 

#31 Cutch Ellis gives his side multiple second chance opportunities with 40 offensive rebounds while on the defensive side of things McHugh II and Anderson have notched 72 and 70 to deny opponents time and time again. 

Ellis also uses every inch of his deceptively nimble 6 foot 7 inch frame to force 21 steals out of the opposition. #10 Luther Gibbs finds himself at the top of the stat sheet by utilizing his speed to match opponents on a breakaway and pick up key blocks, having 16 in total. 

With his dribbling ability, he can absorb pressure allowing space for other teammates like Aigner and Beasley the opportunity for a wide open three pointer. 

With many high scoring games on the season and the team averaging over 80 points a game, it is up to the Captains defense to slow down their opponents on offense to continue to pick up victories at a crucial time in the season.

~Austin Arch, Staff Writer~

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