Thursday, June 13, 2024

Elite Defensive Performance Lifts Captains To 60-49 Victory over Williams in NCAA Sectional

(Sydney Smith/CNU Athletics)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Christopher Newport University’s stingy defense held Williams College to 49 points and 28 percent shooting Friday, as the Captains ousted the Ephs from the NCAA Division III Tournament.

CNU, defending National Champions, posted a 60-49 victory at Ragan-Brown Field House on the campus of Guilford College to advance to the Elite 8 for the sixth time in program history.

The Captains, now 24-6, will play Saturday night at 7:15 against host school Guilford College, with the winner advancing to the National Semifinals next weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Guilford defeated Keene State Friday night, 82-60, to improve to 25-4 on the year.

“Defensively I thought we were just awesome,” Head Coach John Krikorian said following his team’s fifth straight victory. “To hold a team like Williams to 49 points and 28 percent shooting is honestly just remarkable. Ian Anderson and Ethan Ward played so tough inside, and as the game moved on, I think we figured out some ways to get the ball inside, and that’s where we were able to get so many of our points. Driving to the basket allowed us to manufacture shots, and when they didn’t go in, many times we were able to get to the line.”

The Captains out-scored the Ephs in the paint, 26-8, despite Williams’ noticeable size advantage. CNU also forced 16 turnovers by the Ephs, a team that averaged just 11 per game this season, and Christopher Newport also recorded 11 steals, led by freshman Isaiah Dozier with four take-aways.

“They’re warriors, they really are,” Krikorian continued. “Ive said it for the last two years, I really think Collin Hines is the best defensive player in the country. When he’s in the game, he gives our team such confidence defensively, it lifts everyone up. Our guards, Tyson Henderson and Christian Wilson, along with Isaiah Dozier have really followed suit and given us so much at the defensive end.”

Senior All-American Jahn Hines led the way in the scoring column for CNU with 14 points, while fifth-year senior Ian Anderson scored 13 and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, all in the second half. CNU held a two-point lead at halftime, 30-28, but out-scored the Ephs in the second half, 30-21, to post the victory.

Friday’s first half saw the teams battle back-and-forth, with the Captains holding an early five-point edge, only to see the Ephs take momentum and surge to a seven-point advantage. CNU used a 13-4 run to close out the first half with the two-point lead, 30-28. In the second half, Williams jumped on top, 31-30, in the opening minute but never held the lead again. The Ephs pulled even at 40-40, only to see the Captains go on a 9-2 run, and eventually Christopher Newport held its biggest lead of the game, 13, in the final minute, 60-47, en route to the 11-point triumph.

Christopher Newport advanced despite shooting just 37 percent from the field (19 of 51), and 53 percent from the line (18 of 34). The Captains were also out-rebounded by the Ephs, 42-38.

Williams ends the season with a 23-7 record. The Ephs were led by 11 points from junior Brandon Roughley, and senior Nate Karren recorded 16 rebounds in the loss.

CNU and Williams were playing for just the second time ever, and the Captains have now won both contests, with both coming in the NCAA Tournament. The teams met in the 2019 Round of 8, and the Captains advanced to their second Final Four with a 79-70 win at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY.

With the victory, Christopher Newport became just the fourth team in NCAA Division III history to advance to the tournament quarterfinals four straight seasons.  Friday’s victory marked the ninth-straight win for the Captains in NCAA Tournament play. Krikorian improved his record in the tourney to 26-7 leading the Captains.

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