By AHMED MALIK
Early shooting woes coupled with a hot start by opponent York College led to a 76-68 road defeat for the University of Mary Washington men’s basketball team up in Pennsylvania last Saturday, Feb. 11.
The Spartans used a quick start to jump out to a 26-5 lead within the first 11 minutes, holding the Eagles to just one made field goal during that span of time. The Eagles finished the first half shooting just 33.3 percent from the field, as opposed to York’s blistering 57.1 percent clip.
The Eagles used a 18-4 run to trim the deficit to just eight late in the first half, but a quick seven points by York before halftime pushed the lead back up to 15 at the break.
In the second half, Mary Washington clawed to fight back into the game, getting as close as five points on two different instances. However, they were ultimately unable to overcome the daunting deficit, dropping their third game in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) play.
“Getting down like that early just made it really tough on us the rest of the game, and to overcome that kind of deficit on the road is no easy feat,” senior guard Michael Harvey said.
The UMW starting five struggled scoring in the game, as they combined to go just 4-24 from the field. Meanwhile the Eagles found sparks off the bench to help pick up the slack, as freshman Sean Armstrong led the Eagles with 21 points, while sophomores Bradley Riester and Chad Canady chipped in with 15 and 14 points respectively.
The Spartans’ victory allowed them to avenge their earlier loss to Mary Washington back on Jan. 7, when UMW defeated York in the Anderson Center 73-67. This past Saturday’s defeat dropped the Eagles a half game out of first place with a conference record of 11-3, and an overall mark of 16-7. Meanwhile, York improved to 9-5 in CAC play, and 14-9 overall.
“Playing on the road in the CAC is tough, and York is no exception,” senior forward Tad Dickman said. “It makes it even harder when you don’t come out and execute in the early minutes of the game.”
Despite the bitter loss, the Eagles are still in position to finish first in the CAC standings.
The two head-to-head wins UMW has over current first place team St. Mary’s College gives Mary Washington the all-important tie-breaker, which means if the Eagles win their last two games of regular season play they’ll finish atop the conference standings. No matter what happens the rest of the season, UMW has clinched a first round bye in the conference tournament, and they will host a semifinal round game next Thursday, Feb. 23.
“Our focus is looking forward to Wednesday versus Stevenson, and making sure that we finish out the season strong heading into the conference tournament,” senior guard Ryan Farrar said.
The Eagles hosted Stevenson University (3-11 CAC play, 6-17 overall) last night for the last men’s basketball home game of the regular season. The previous time these two teams met, UMW prevailed 63-53, and this time the Eagles have added incentive to win given that it is Mary Washington’s senior night. The team’s five seniors (Harvey, Dickman, Farrar, Ryan Henderson and Henry Brisibe) were honored before the game for their hard work and contributions to the UMW Eagles basketball program.
The men’s basketball team will next travel up to Wesley College in Dover, Del. to battle the Wolverines this Saturday at 4 p.m.