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The Blue & Gray Press | December 11, 2017

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Men’s basketball continues push for playoff spot, Taylor Johnson surpasses milestone

Men’s basketball continues push for playoff spot, Taylor Johnson surpasses milestone

By ETHAN TOBIN

In Saturday afternoon’s matinee against conference opponent York College Spartans (4-13, 3-7 CAC), the University of Mary Washington men’s basketball team secured an impressive 76-65 win. The win notched their third tally in the win column over their last four games in what has been an otherwise unfortunate season.

In addition to this matchup, the Anderson Center also played host to several alumni events, including special honors for veterans and the 2014 UMW Hall of Fame class, all of which created more buzz amongst the already energetic crowd.

The first half marked a stalemate in which both teams displayed good shooting percentages and were solid defensively. The resulting score of the half ended in an even 31-31 tied score line. The Spartans’ sophomore forward Dalton Myers, who shot four of six from the field, ignited important momentum for his team early on, which resulted in the Spartans maintaining small leads throughout the half.

Countering a quality Spartan offensive shooting effort was a defensively hungry Eagle team whose 1-3-1 defensive style “led to a significant amount of turnovers, which in return gave us extra possessions,” according to head coach Marcus Kahn. The Eagles generated nine Spartan turnovers over the first half.

Along with a great combined defensive effort for the Eagles, freshmen forward Eric Shaw picked up an emphatic block that set the tone for the Eagles defensively. Sophomore guard Brent Mahoney and senior guard Taylor Johnson contributed defensively as well, picking up three rebounds and two steals.

At about 2:22 remaining in the first half, Johnson sunk his third three-point shot of the half, marking his 1,000 career point and bringing his team within one score of the Spartans.

“The way I caught the ball and shot, I knew it was going in. I got goosebumps,” said Johnson.

Johnson, who is averaging 13.8 points per game this season, closed a memorable first half with his fourth three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining on the clock, bringing his first half total to a game leading 12 points.

From the first seconds of the second half, the Eagles never looked back. On the defensive side of the ball, the blue and gray combined for five steals and generated another eight Spartan turnovers.

Offensively, points kept pouring in for the Eagles. Within a four minute time period beginning at the 16:00 mark of the second half, the Eagles opened up a 55-41 lead. Strong second half offensive contributions from sophomore guard Asa Scott, sophomore forward John Lutkenhaus and Johnson producing seven, six and thirteen points, respectively, were the catalysts in propelling the team to victory.

In his career day, Johnson finished with a game-high of 25 points, adding to an overall great team victory.

After the game, Kahn noted that he thought the game “was an all-around good effort.” With eight games remaining in the season, all of which are important conference games, Kahn pointed out that the mentality of the team remains the same going forward despite the win.

“Although we dug a hole for ourselves early, we are well in the hunt,” said Kahn. “You never know what can happen. We are continuing to get better every game.”

With this win, the Eagles move into the seventh position in the Capital Athletic Conference, which keeps them well in the hunt of a playoff spot. Their season record now stands at (4-13, CAC 4-6). The eagles will next take on Marymount University this Saturday in Arlington.