Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Season Comes to an End as Captains Fall at Guilford, 50-48, in NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal

(Sydney Smith/CNU Athletics)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Christopher Newport University suffered a 50-48 loss Saturday night at Guilford College in the NCAA Tournament’s quarterfinal round. The defeat in front of a raucous crowd of 1,123 at Ragan-Brown Field House concluded the season for the Captains with a 24-7 record.

After missing his first 15 field goal attempts of the game, fifth-year senior Tyler Dearman scored on a driving layup with two seconds left to break a 48-48 tie, and send the Quakers to the NCAA Division III semifinals in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they will face fellow Old Dominion Athletic Conference member Hampden-Sydney College. Freshman Toa Hollenbeck had tied the game for the Captains by sinking two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the defensive struggle.

“It’s tough that somebody had to lose that game, but credit to Guilford, they’re a terrific team,” Head Coach John Krikorian said. “They make it very tough to score, and I thought we also defended really well all night, including on the final shot…but after it hung on the rim for what seemed like 30 seconds, it dropped in and that was the difference.”

Senior Jahn Hines, the Player of the Year in the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference, led the Captains in the scoring column with 17 points, while Hollenbeck, the Freshman of the Year in the C2C, also reached double figures with 14 points.

Guilford, now 26-4, was led by fifth-year senior Julius Burch, who scored 21 points. Dearman, who averaged 21 points per game this year for GC, was held to just five, but led the game in rebounds with 12.

“I thought we showed great resiliency after getting down in the second half and coming back the way we did,” Krikorian continued. “I’m so proud of our effort and the way these guys represented our team and Christopher Newport University. They’re hurting right now, but they’re going to be better for this experience. They’ve worked so hard and given so much, I’m a proud coach today.”

The game was a back-and-forth battle that featured six ties and seven lead changes. CNU held its biggest lead, 16-10, with 8:29 remaining in the opening half before the Quakers embarked on a 12-3 run the rest of the half to hold a 22-19 advantage at the intermission.

Guilford pushed the lead to eight with 11:06 remaining in the second half, 33-25, only to have the Captains answer with a 17-5 run to re-claim the lead, 42-38, with 4:26 to play. The Quakers would prove to be hard to put away, though, as Burch connected on a jumper with 2:11 to play to give Guilford the lead again, 45-44, and the Quakers never fell behind again.

Freshman Ethan Ward led the Captains with seven rebounds as CNU out-rebounded Guilford, 38-36. Both squads registered low shooting percentages, as the Captains made 17 of 54 shots (32 percent) while GC made 16 of 47 for 34 percent. In the end, it was Dearman’s shot in the final seconds that mattered most.

“Sometimes you win on last second shots, and sometimes you lose…but it shouldn’t make you question what you did,” Krikorian concluded. “I feel as proud of these guys as any I’ve coached, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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