Santa Cruz C2C Final in California

Christopher Newport, Division III’s top-ranked women’s basketball team, survived another threat to its perfect season and won the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship with a 71-64 victory over host UC Santa Cruz.

Sondra Fan and Anaya Simmons scored 19 points apiece, Simmons grabbed 13 rebounds, Gabbi San Diego had seven assists and Natalie Terwilliger had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Captains (24-0).

Noted for their depth and “Captains Chaos” pressure defense, they won twice after taking a cross-country trip to Kaiser Permanente Arena to increase their winning streak to a nation-leading 41 games. But Saturday’s contest was far tougher than Saturday’s semifinal triumph against longtime rival Mary Washington.

Paced by Kaylee Murphy’s 22 points and 17 rebounds, the Banana Slugs (16-4) led for much of the first half, but CNU went on a late run for a 33-32 halftime edge. The Captains began the third quarter with 11 consecutive points to hike the lead to 44-32.

The Slugs cut the deficit to five with 31 seconds left in the game before finally yielding; they had put CNU’s streak in peril two weeks before until falling 74-70 in Fredericksburg.

CNU will learn its NCAA bracket placement Monday. The Captains will have to travel for the first two rounds because the CNU men’s team is hosting first- and second-round games.

CNU women beat NCAA foe by 55

It’s hard to imagine a team being more dominant in an NCAA Division III Tournament second-round game than the top-ranked Christopher Newport women were during Saturday night’s 107-52 elimination of Mount Saint Mary College in Baltimore.

Sondra Fan’s 21 points, on 9-of-10 field-goal shooting, and seven steals sparked CNU, as did Anaya Simmons’ 17 points and six rebounds. Natalie Terwilliger added nine points and six rebounds.

Against a Knights team that entered on a 12-game winning streak and finished 24-4, the Captains showcased their depth, with 14 CNU players getting in the game and none playing more than 20 minutes.

CNU’s point total and victory margin were postseason records for the program.

The Captains shot 52.1% (38 of 73) from the field and 84% (21 of 25) at the free-throw line, surviving 26 turnovers while forcing the Knights, from Newburgh, New York, to 35 turnovers. They outrebounded Mount St. Mary 57-18.

Skyline Conference Player of the Year Morina Bojko had 16 points before fouling out for the Knights, who upended homestanding Johns Hopkins on Friday to reach the second round.

CNU (26-0) will take a 43-game winning streak to Massachusetts to compete in its sixth consecutive Sweet 16 under coach Bill Broderick. The Captains will play Friday against Trinity of San Antonio, Texas, which began the tournament ranked 13th nationally.

The winner of that game will play Saturday for a Final Four berth against the victor of two Massachusetts schools, No. 8 Tufts and No. 11 Amherst, the sectional host. When Tufts was ranked No. 1, the Jumbos defeated CNU 70-65 in late December 2019, and the Captains haven’t lost since.

Women’s basketball gets second chance while men sent home

Salisbury University men’s and women’s basketball were both eliminated in the semifinal rounds of their respective conference tournaments, but one squad has been awarded a shot at redemption.

The Lady Gulls will continue their 2021-22 season after being unveiled as one of the nation’s top-64 teams in the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket released Monday.

Following the squad’s cross-country loss to University of California, Santa Cruz in its second game of the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, SU’s postseason depended on being named one of the NCAA Tournament’s 20 at-large Pool C bids.

The undefeated Christopher Newport University Captains earned the C2C’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as conference champions. SU opened its postseason renaissance with an overall record of 20-6.

SU’s senior stars will now extend their athletic careers in the maroon and gold, led by forward Kaylee Otlowski who orchestrated the Sea Gulls’ offensive attack against the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs by netting 16 points as part of her 10th double-double of the season.

The Lady Gulls will jumpstart the revived campaign Friday, facing Baldwin Wallace University in the team’s first NCAA Tournament action since the 2014-15 season.

The 14th-ranked Baldwin Wallace Yellowjackets were crowned Ohio Athletic Conference champions after a 21-4 regular season campaign and claimed an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Gettysburg College will host the Salisbury-Baldwin Wallace matchup, with tip off scheduled for 5 p.m. in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The Lady Gulls’ male counterparts, however, witnessed the end of their 2021-22 season on the hardwood immediately following the team’s abrupt exit in the C2C Tournament.

SU suffered a close 67-60 defeat to second-seeded Mary Washington College on Friday, with a late Sea Gull surge falling just short of erasing a 16-point Eagles lead to end the game and, subsequently, the team’s season.

All-C2C First Team guard Gary Briddell notched 11 points in the contest, while fellow fifth-year guard Johnny Fierstein paced the Sea Gulls with seven rebounds and four assists.

After finishing with a below-.500 record of 10-12 on the year, a young Salisbury roster will enter the 2022-23 season seeking to replace the production of departing costars Briddell and Fierstein, namely through sophomore standout and All-C2C Second Team forward Jordan Oates. Oates ranked 21st across Division III in rebounding during the 2021 regular season.

The 2022 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament is also slated to begin Friday without the Sea Gulls in its 64-team bracket.

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