CNU Basketball teams drop anchor in the win column

Recapping the Captains’ second week of exhibition play

~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~

In a time of widespread uncertainty and concern, the recent return of Christopher Newport University (CNU) Men’s and Women’s Basketball has provided our Captains community with an entertaining respite from our now almost monotonous world. Now at a year since major COVID-19 safety concerns and regulations were enacted, we face a society that must continue its ongoing battle against the viral disease, but also look ahead to life after a year long lock-in. It really makes you think if things will ever go back to the way they were. Yeah… anyways, both of CNU’s basketball teams put the ball through the net really well last week. Kidding aside, they actually did. Kicking off each team’s second week of exhibition play, the women stormed the Freeman Center and valiantly vanquished the Saints of Arlington’s Marymount University last Monday night. Not to be outdone, the men continued their winning streak, which dates back to Mar. 6, 2020, with a commanding victory over the out-of-state rival Salisbury University on Wednesday evening. Both teams’ wins sparked a whole week of triumph for each team. It’s kind of like when you say it’s your “birthday week” rather than just your birthday. Yup, the CNU Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams are those kinds of people. However, instead of just telling you, let’s take a little closer look at how the week of winning, or “birthday week” according to people like junior guard Phylicia McInnis or freshman forward Jahn Hines, was born. 

Getting things started on Monday, Feb. 15, CNU Women’s Basketball etched out a close victory against Marymount by a final score of 82 to 77. The game marked the second of six exhibition contests the Captains will compete in, and the first of a home-and-away two game series against the Saints. The two squads will meet again on Mar. 6, if permitted, but last Monday night, the Captains were the better team. Leading the way in scoring for CNU was the junior 6’2’’ forward Natalie Terwilliger. The pride of Alexandria finished the game with 18 points, but No. 55 also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds before the night’s end. Also of note, freshman guard Camille Malagar scored 12 points off the bench for the team, and connected on a monumental three-pointer with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter to give the Captains a five point lead and their largest lead of the game. Of course, things weren’t all rainbows and roses for CNU at the beginning. It should be remembered the team lost their first outing 66 to 53 almost a week prior to Salisbury. In that game, the Captains had a 30 to 29 lead heading into halftime, but then the Seagulls went on their run. Salisbury outscored the Captains 20 to 11 in the third quarter, and 16 to 13 in the fourth to sneak out of Newport News with a win. 

Things were looking all too similar at the beginning of their second game against Marymount. The Saints jumped out to a 10 to 0 lead to start the game, and it wasn’t until the 6:50 mark of the first quarter when Malagar scored the Captains their first points of the game with a layup. At the end of the first quarter, CNU was trailing 22 to 12, but when the horn sounded for the end of the second, the Captains had cut into the lead to make it a 38 to 37 contest. The Captains held the lead a few brief times during the second quarter, but it wouldn’t be till the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, when the team really began to swing the tide in their favor. 

Heading into the fourth, the Captains found themselves down by seven, but the team connected on four three-pointers that found nothing but the bottom of the basket to push the team out of their hole and over the edge to glory. Due to fantastic time management at the game’s conclusion, the Captains ran out the clock, dodged any fouls and avoided an 0-2 exhibition record when the scoreboard hit quadruple zeros. Now with a 1-1 exhibition record, the women kept their streak going. On Saturday, Feb. 20, the Captains mounted a comeback 80 to 70 win over rival Salisbury. The team scored 52 points in the second half, and exactly half of the second-half total came from the combination of sophomore Anaya Simmons and Terwilliger. Now, with a 2-1 exhibition record, the women look forward to their next game on Thursday, Feb. 25 against Southern Virginia University at the Freeman Center. 

Conversely, Men’s Basketball had already tasted victory in their short exhibition season with three wins already notched under their belt from the previous week. The notches just kept piling up, as the team took home their fourth win of the season after an 87 to 81 victory over Salisbury. Leading the way for the Captains was senior Jason Aigner with 29 points, three rebounds and two assists. Aigner connected on 60% of his three point attempts, and went a perfect nine-for-nine from the free throw line. Also contributing to the win for the Captains was sophomore Ian Anderson. No. 45 was one rebound short of a double-double with a 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists stat line. The Captains held the lead for the entire contest, and victory was in sight from the onset. Heading into halftime, CNU had a 14-point advantage. The Captains, fittingly, took care of business against the Seagulls. On Friday, Feb. 19, the Captains fell to Virginia Wesleyan 84 to 58, but they’ll take the court again Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the Freeman Center for their own matchup against Marymount. 

All Statistics, athlete information and dates obtained from: 

Christopher Newport University Athletics – Official Athletics Website (cnusports.com)

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