MARYVILLE, Tenn. — After dropping back-to-back conference games, 16th-ranked Christopher Newport bounced back in a big way on Sunday, snapping Maryville’s 13-game winning streak with a 65-60 win on the road. The matchup was CNU’s ninth consecutive game away from home and seventh consecutive road conference game, but the Captains escaped the grueling trip with a 7-2 mark, improving to 14-2 overall, 7-2 against the USA South.
Maryville was coming off a big win against nationally-ranked Ferrum earlier in the week and a 31-point win against N.C. Wesleyan on Saturday, both teams that had captured wins against CNU. But Sunday would be a different story as the Captains stellar defense, as it has been all season, was again the story against the Fighting Scots (14-2, 8-1).
This weekend, the Captains defense was charged with playing the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in team field goal percentage, as Ferrum was the top-ranked team and Maryville second. Coming into Sunday’s contest, the Scots were hitting 46.8 percent of their shots, and also ranked second nationally in 3-point shooting, at 40.2 percent from long range. For the second consecutive game though, the CNU defense held their opponent to its lowest shooting performance of the year; Maryville knocked down just 34.9 percent of their shots on Sunday.
CNU was able to build a big lead early in the contest, and held off a frantic comeback from the home team late in the game. The Captains raced out to a 14-point lead after the tip, opening the game on a 17-3 lead. CNU spread the floor, as seven different players contributed to the big run that came in the first 10 minutes of action.
The Captains defense was stifling, holding the Scots to just three points and one made field goal through the first 12:10 of the game. In fact, Maryville’s first basket came just 23 seconds into the game and the team was held empty for nearly 13 minutes of game time when Mackenzie Puckett ended the drought with a jumper at the 7:17 mark.
The first-half lead would build to as much as 16, at 26-10 on a Tia Perry free-throw, before a 6-2 run by Maryville to end the half made it a 12-point advantage at the break, 28-16. Eight different Captains scored in the opening stanza, led by six points and six rebounds from sophomore Camry Green. Rookie Brandi Holland nailed a 3-pointer and finished the half with five points. Defensively, CNU held Maryville to just 5-of-27 from the floor, an 18.5 percent shooting percentage.
In the second half, the CNU offense had only 17 field goal attempts, but made the most of their chances by shooting 58.8 percent from the floor. The Captains maintained the double-digit lead for the majority of the half, taking another 16-point edge with 5:57 left, 59-43, on a pair of made free-throws by Green.
That would be when Maryville started to knock down shots, though, and a frantic comeback attempt began. In a five minute span into the final minute, the home team went on a 17-4 run to pull within just three points, 63-60. Janell Menard hit a big 3-pointer followed by a Lailah Farmer free-throw in the final minute to give Maryville a chance.
CNU would turn to junior leader Nicole Mitchell, though, for the free-throw assignment. On the inbounds play, the Captains got the ball into the hands of Mitchell, who ranks in the top five nationally in free-throw percentage. She knocked down both shots to ice the win, giving the Captains a 65-60 advantage with 20 seconds remaining.
CNU shot 45.5 percent from the floor in the game, and got double figure scoring from three different players. Green finished just shy of a double-double, with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Mitchell added 12 points and five rebounds. Perry finished as the team leader in scoring, with 14 points in the game.
Maryville had a pair of stellar individual performances from Menard and Kiera Payne. The former finished with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists with four made 3-pointers and Payne chipped in 19 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-13 shooting. The rest of the team was just 25 percent from the floor, though, going 8-for-32.