Basketball teams battle for playoff positioning as regular season winds down
By ETHAN TOBIN
Both the University of Mary Washington’s men’s and women’s basketball teams returned to the Anderson Center to compete in Capital Athletic Conference action against rival school Christopher Newport University on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Both games were highly anticipated, as the stands were jammed-packed and especially rowdy with the massive student section cheering on their Eagles throughout both contests.
In the women’s contest, the Eagles held onto the lead throughout the game. However, with about 11 minutes remaining, the CNU women’s squad took control of the game and never looked back. The Lady Eagles were defeated by a final score of 49-56.
Senior guard Claire Haeuptle finished with a game high of 14 points, while the entire Eagles squad together pulled in 39 rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Unfortunately, their defensive effort was not enough to control a CNU offense that produced a strong 39-point showing in the second half.
Following the women’s loss, it was the men’s turn to take the floor. Throughout the game, the Eagles trailed the Captains yet never gave up in their efforts to reduce the score. Freshmen guard Aaron McFarland and sophomore guard Kevin Regimbal contributed 19 points and 10 points, respectively, for the Captains, creating a sizable lead that the Eagles struggled to gain on throughout the contest. Down by 12 points and with 11 minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles pulled within just a basket of the Captains but were unable to take the late lead to a win. Freshmen forward Eric Shaw enjoyed a game high of 23 points and collected eight boards.
After back-to-back disappointing losses on the men’s and women’s sides Wednesday, both teams returned to CAC action in an Anderson Center afternoon double-header against CAC rival Penn State-Harrisburg on Saturday, Feb. 14.
This time around, the women’s team captured a dominating 82-52 victory. Along with this win, which brings the Lady Eagles to a season record of 17-6, 13-3 CAC, they currently sit in second place behind Salisbury University (15-0 CAC, 21-1 overall) in the CAC standings.
Although the win was a result of great team efforts, there were several notable individual performances, including sophomore forward Brianne Comden, who led scoring in the game with 17 points and also tallied seven rebounds. Senior forward Caitlin Ciniero and Haeuptle added 14 points and 13 points, respectively. Ciniero dominated the boards on both offense and defense, tallying 13 rebounds and marking a big double-double for her on the day.
After the game, Head Coach Deena Applebury commented on the win, stating, “The win represented an overall great team effort. It was especially nice to have Aubrey [Howland] back in the rotation after she had missed significant time due to injury.”
Along with capturing the win, the day brought further emotion amongst the team and crowd. In honor of breast cancer awareness, the game was the Eagles’ “Play for Kay Day.” Along the Eagle bench and within the crowd, pink dominated the color scheme in a show of support for the great cause.
“My grandmother was affected by breast cancer. I’m sure other members of the team have been affected by it in one way or another,” said Applebury. “So it was a cause that we are so proud to support and to help raise some money for. The win made the day even better.”
With two games remaining before the playoffs and in a solid second position in the CAC, the women’s basketball team mentality remains the same.
“We will continue to be aggressive, we will take each day as a new challenge and will continue to work hard and grow,” said Applebury.
Following the women’s game, the men’s basketball team secured a 73-65 victory over Penn State-Harrisburg. Significant offensive contributions from senior guard Taylor Johnson, who poured in 25 points, as well as sophomore Asa Scott and freshmen Eric Shaw, both adding 12 and 16 points, respectively, led to the UMW victory. The Eagles contained a Penn State-Harrisburg squad who throughout the game remained within only a few points.
Along with the important Eagle win that keeps them well in the hunt for the CAC playoffs, there was another important game on the radar. Frostburg State and Salisbury University took on one another in CAC action. With Frostburg also battling for the sixth and final playoff spot in the CAC, the game held as much importance to the Eagles as did their own game. With Salisbury defeating Frostburg 72-54, the Eagles now take the sixth place spot in the CAC playoff standings.
The Eagles now look ahead to their final regular season game against Wesley College on Saturday, Feb. 21, with a win-or-go-home scenario virtually in play. The Eagles will also be waiting anxiously to see the result of the Frostburg vs. Marymount game, also on Saturday, as it will most likely determine the Eagles’ destiny.