Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Second Half Rally Propels Captains Past Widener to the Sweet 16 … Jahn Hines Scores 24 to Lead CNU

(Sydney Smith?CNU Athletics)

CHESTER, Pa. — Christopher Newport University is headed to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The Captains, defending National Champions, survived a physical, back-and forth, battle at Widener University Saturday night, pulling out a 70-65 victory over the Pride at Schwartz Athletic Center. Head Coach John Krikorian‘s squad will now advance to play Williams College next Friday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., in the round of 16.

Senior All-American Jahn Hines led the Captains with 24 points, but it was freshmen Toa Hollenbeck and Ethan Ward who sparked the Captains after they had fallen behind, 59-53, with 5:30 to play. Hollenbeck, the Freshman of the Year in the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference, scored all 12 of his points, and Ward contributed all five of his, in the second half that saw Widener out-score the Captains, 34-29.

CNU, now 23-6, built a 41-31 halftime lead after the Captains knocked down seven three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. Widener, who finished the season with a 24-5 record, whittled away at the CNU lead through the second half, finally taking its first lead, 52-49, with 8:50 remaining. After the Pride built the lead to six, 59-53, the Captains used a 15-4 run, with all 15 points coming from Jahn Hines, Hollenbeck, and Ward, to hold a 68-63 edge with just under a minute to go. Sophomore Collin Hines, who topped the Captains with eight rebounds, knocked down two free throws with 16 seconds left to end the scoring and secure the five-point victory.

“I feel like I just survived a 15-round boxing match,” Krikorian said following the triumph. “It was just a terrific basketball game, very physical, and the way we came back, after losing the lead in the second half, really shows what we’re capable of. Sometimes in the tournament, freshmen are your biggest weapon because they don’t feel any pressure, they can just go out and play. Toa and Ethan are fierce competitors and great players and the moment wasn’t too big for them. They put us on their backs, and gave us a lift when we needed it most.”

Fifth-year senior Dominic Dunn led Widener with 21 points, and fifth-year senior Howie Rankine, Jr., recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Dunn and Rankine are both graduate transfers to Widener from Susquehanna University for their fifth season on eligibility

The victory was the eighth straight for the Captains in NCAA Tournament play, and followed a 79-59 triumph over Hobart College Friday night in the opening round. CNU won six in a row last year en route to the first National title in program history.

Christopher Newport lost fifth-year senior Jake Latta to a knee injury with 8:28 to play in the opening half. Latta, who scored a career-high 21 points Friday in the victory over Hobart, was not able to return.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to survive,” Krikorian continued. “We knew Jake was out going into the second half, but our guys stepped up to the challenge and were able to withstand Widener’s run.”

CNU and Williams will play the early game Friday at 4:15, followed by Guilford and Keene State in the nightcap. The winners will advance to the round of eight and play on Saturday. The Captains defeated Williams at Hamilton College, 79-70, to advance to the Final Four in 2019, the only meeting ever of the two schools.

Related Articles