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Women stay perfect in CAC play: Wood Captures 200th Win
The Mary Washington men’s and women’s basketball teams came away with victories on the road last Saturday against York College.
The women’s team, who rank 24th nationally among Division III teams, improved their spotless conference record to 13-0 with the 63-51 win.
UMW trailed 3-2 with 18:35 remaining in the first half but never looked backed after that, as the home Spartans never led the remainder of the game. Sophomore guard Jenna McRae broke out of her recent slump to lead the Eagles offensive charge with 17 points, 15 of which were scored in the second half.
But the story of the opening half was all about defense, as Mary Washington limited York to just 5-27 shooting (18.5%) in the first half of play. UMW kept up their stifling play on the defense end of the court for the rest of the game, as they held the Spartans to just 31.4 percent shooting from the field and forced 22 turnovers.
The Eagles led by 9 points at intermission and York kept the game competitive for the first part of the second half. Then UMW pulled away for good and Head Coach Deanna Applebury watched her team’s lead balloon to as many 19 points.
York junior guard April Sparkman did all she could to hand the Eagles their first conference loss of the year as she posted 18 points and 11 rebounds, both of which were game highs.
Though the women’s team is undefeated in CAC play, they still are only one game up on Marymount University (12-1) in the conference standings. Those same Saints hosted the UMW women’s team last night in a battle for conference supremacy, but the game finished too late to be included in this edition.
On the men’s side, the team captured a riveting overtime victory on the road against York College, 74-71. The win kept the men’s chances at a CAC tournament birth alive, as it improved their conference record to 5-7.
The Eagles started fast, as they began the game on a 6-0 run to help set the tone. UMW controlled the game in the early going and extended their lead to 13 points with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half, with a score of 29-16.
However then UMW couldn’t find the basket, as they went nearly six minutes without scoring a point. York took advantage of the visitor’s struggles as they went on a 12-0 run to cut the UMW lead to just a single point and eventually trailed just 34-31 at halftime.
Much like the first half, the Eagles got off to a hot start to begin play in the second half. UMW went on 7-0 to push the lead back to 10 and they held a double digit margin for most of the half. But then Mary Washington went into another late lull, this time going scoreless for more than two-and-a-half minutes of action, and the Spartans took advantage to once again get back in the game.
York guard Nick Brady hit two late free throws to send the game to overtime, and UMW trailed by one with under two minutes left in the game. However, freshman guard Rocky Ullah scored with 19 seconds left to give the Eagles the lead and senior All-American center Brandon Altmann knocked down two free throws to seal the win.
The blemish of the game for UMW was their carelessness with the ball, as they had 18 turnovers in the game.
“Turnovers are something that worries me everyday,” Head Coach Rod Wood said. “We stress [limiting turnovers] in practice, but it hasn’t translated. It’s like telling a girl to be pretty when she’s ugly. There’s nothing she can do about it.”
Thanks to senior All-American center the Eagles were able to overcome the turnovers as Altmann had another great night, scoring 16 points while pulling down 16 rebounds.
Meanwhile senior guard Jonathan Blaine and sophomore guard Tad Dickman helped give aid to Altmann as both had great nights of their own. Blaine scored a career-high 15 points and added 6 rebounds while Dickman led all scorers with 18 points and also pulled down 7 boards in the victory.
“My goal was just to come off the bench and bring some energy,” Dickman said. “[I wanted to] keep the level of play as high as the starters had set it at.”
Coach Wood implemented a four guard lineup for Saturday’s bout against York and switched the team’s primary defense from a match-up zone to a man-to-man defense. Both changes were critical in the upset as Blaine thrived in his extra minutes and the new-look defense appeared to bother York’s star guard Nick Brady, as he went just 3-14 from the field in the game.
The victory helped keep the team’s slim postseason hopes alive and it also gave Wood his 200th career victory.
“It’s nice to have [200 wins],” Wood said. “But when you coach for fourteen years you should reach a number like that.”
But while Wood downplayed the achievement, Dickman said it meant a lot to the players to get that for their coach.
“We were determined to win it for him at York,” Dickman said. “To go on the road, against a team that had a 13-game home winning streak and beat them on their senior day was the perfect way to do it. We gave him a standing ovation in the locker room after the game.”
The Eagles won another road conference game against Gallaudet University this past Monday to move to 6-7 in CAC play and once again keep hope alive for a conference tournament bid. Another big conference game occurred last night against Marymount University, but the game did not conclude in time for results to be included in this issue.