The University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team sat at 24-0, the Capital Athletic Conference regular season title already in their back pocket, with only one game against Wesley College standing between the Lady Eagles and a perfect regular season.
This is the same Wesley team that just last year stunned top-seeded UMW in the semifinals of the CAC Tournament, quickly dashing all the postseason aspirations head coach Deena Applebury had for her team.
So this past Saturday, Feb. 18, the No. 7 Eagles were not caught off guard, as they exercised their demons by dismantling one of this year’s conference bottom feeders in a 50-point massacre, 97-47.
“As a team our sentiment was that we kind of owed them one,” Applebury said. “Knowing that Wesley wasn’t going to be in the conference tournament, this was going to be our last crack at them, so the kids just came out fired up ready to play and really wanted to put it to them this time around.”
The Wolverines got on the board first with an early layup, but it was all Mary Washington after that. The Lady Eagles dominated the game throughout, and at halftime UMW had secured a commanding 48-23 lead. The second half was more of the same, as the Mary Washington lead only grew after the break, finally ballooning to the 50-point margin before the clock struck zeros to improve UMW to 25-0.
“We’re definitely really proud of [the perfect regular season] and it’s something that no one can take away from us, but we’re not done,” senior Jenna McRae said. “The season’s kind of divided into threes; the regular season, the conference tournament and then the NCAA’s, so we still have two more things we want to accomplish.”
The oppressive, top-ranked Division III defense that UMW has become known for was at its best once again, as the host Wolverines committed 19 turnovers and converted just 30.8 percent of their field goal attempts. Yet the Eagles offense was not to be outdone on this day, as Applebury’s team connected on their shots at a 52.5 percent clip, including a blistering 47.8 percent on 3-pointers (11-23).
Senior Katie Wimmer did it all for the Eagles in the blowout victory, as she scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds, tallied seven assists and swiped five steals. McRae and fellow senior Claire Brooks were also top-flight performers in UMW’s 25th victory of the season, as McRae finished with a game-high 21 points and Brooks contributed with her 17-point, seven-rebound output off the bench.
Despite their large number of runaway victories, Wimmer said the Eagles aren’t concerned about how things will turn out should UMW get into a dogfight.
“We have had a lot of blowouts, but there’s been a few games where they’ve been close like CNU and Ferrum and we’ve proved that we can pull them out,” Wimmer said. “I think those were good trial runs for the postseason now, so I’m glad we played those teams.”
The Eagles will play host to Marymount University tonight at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the CAC Tournament. UMW beat the Saints by double figures in both of their regular season meetings this year.