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The Blue & Gray Press | October 24, 2017

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Lady Eagles’ record continues to fly north this winter

Last month, on Saturday, Jan. 25, the Lady Eagles basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to the then undefeated Spartans of York College.basketballll

Since that loss, University of Mary Washington has won five of its last six games, winning with an average of 29.4 points per game.

“We are starting to peak at the right time with playoffs right around the corner, and we are sitting right where we want to be,” said senior guard Sam Partonen.

The most recent of UMW’s victories was a 74-36 win against Wesley College on the Eagles’ senior night.

Seniors Partonen, Aby Diop and Brieneke Mattes were recognized prior to the game. The three seniors came up big in the game, each scoring in double figures for the Eagles and led the team in their respective categories.

Matthes paced the team in scoring with 13 points, Diop led the team in rebounds with 10 and Partonen dropped seven assists to lead the Eagles.

“Beating opponents by one point or 30 points really doesn’t make a difference to us, as long as we get the win,” said Partonen. “But I must admit, the 30 point wins are even better because it definitely sends a message to anyone who doubts us.”

UMW can credit much of their success to the leadership of these seniors. The well balanced group has kept the team focused and ready for each game and continuing to set the right example for their teammates to follow.

“Being a senior has definitely given me a sense of urgency that I haven’t had in previous years,” said Partonen. “I think I speak for all of the seniors when I say that we are on a mission this season to finish with absolutely no regrets and to know that we did all we could to lead our team.”

Partonen leads UMW in points per game, with 11.3, as well as assists and steals per contest.

“[Diop] and [Matthes] are playing some unbelievably good basketball, and I think the three of us know how important it is as we go into playoffs to set the right example for the younger girls,” said Partonen.

One of those five victories, and arguably the Eagles’ best overall game of the year, was a 74-44 road win against the nationally ranked Captains of Christopher Newport University on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Considering that when these two teams last met it resulted in a 64-43 CNU victory, the 30 point road win is a perfect example of how much the Eagles have improved throughout the past few games.

“Our coaching staff created an unbelievable game plan, and we as a team executed it extremely well,” said Partonen. “We have worked extremely hard this season, and we are starting to reap the benefits of all of that hard work.”

The only loss the Eagles suffered during their streak was a double overtime loss to the Salisbury University Seagulls, who currently sit just ahead of UMW in the CAC standings at third.

“Heading into the conference tournament, we are focused on doing the same things we have been doing all season: getting after it in practice every day, mentally preparing for each game by watching film and going over scouting reports; and at the end of the day, stepping onto the court and leaving it all out there,” said Partonen.

Two road games against Southern Virginia University and Penn-State Harrisburg separate UMW from the CAC tournament.

The Eagles won each of their previous match ups against these teams by 35 points, leaving the door wide open for the Eagles to snag the third seed in the tournament if Salisbury were to drop a game.

“We have believed in ourselves since day one, and our coaches have had that same confidence in us,” said Partonen. “So as a unit I think we just need to keep that mentality for the conference tournament.”