No. 18 CNU Women's Basketball Heads Back to Sweet 16 With 84-58 Win Over Randolph-Macon in 2nd Round

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ASHLAND, Va. -- For the third straight season and the fifth time in six years under head coach Bill Broderick, the Christopher Newport women's basketball team is one of 16 teams left standing. After an 84-58 win over host Randolph-Macon College (26-5) on Saturday night, the 18th-ranked Captains improved to 24-4 and will dance on to the NCAA Sectional Round next weekend. 

Christopher Newport became the first team to out-rebound one of the nation's elite rebounding teams (ranked third in the nation coming into Saturday's game) when they hauled in 41 boards compared to the Yellow Jackets' 39. The Captains paired strong inside play with the usual dominating defense to pull away from the ODAC Champions in front of nearly 800 fans at Crenshaw Gymnasium in the second round matchup. 

Leading the Captains' efforts on both ends of the floor was senior Sam Porter, who scored a team-high 19 points with eight steals. Fellow senior Bailey Dufrene also had a stellar performance, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting while adding four assists, three rebounds, and three steals. 

Randolph-Macon, which features the nation's leading scorer and second leading rebounder Kelly Williams, was unable to overcome a hot shooting performance by the Captains that saw CNU knock down a season-best 57% of it's shots in the first half. For the game, CNU knocked down 45.8% (33-72), including six three-pointers, and turned over Randolph-Macon 31 times with 21 steals. 

The stout Christopher Newport defense flexed its muscle against the Yellow Jacket offense in the early going, forcing six turnovers in the first four minutes of action. Those takeaways helped lead the way in an early 11-2 run for the Captains, highlighted by back-to-back buckets to cap the roll. First, Porter made a nice drive to the basket and scooped in a reverse layup to make it 9-2, and then Zhara Tannor intercepted a pass and connected on the runout for the early 9-point lead. After Williams knocked down a layup to end the spurt, senior Devon Byrd buried a triple from the top of the key to give the Captains a 10-point edge, 14-4.
CNU carried an 11-point lead into the second quarter, 25-14, after a shooting 55% in the first frame. Early in the second, Randolph-Macon closed to within six on three different occasions, but the Captains defensive pressure and hot shooting performance was too much for the Yellow Jackets as CNU quickly re-built a 16-point lead at halftime, 47-31.
The Captains shot a season-best 57.1% (20-35) for a half while doing most of their damage inside against one of the nation's elite shot blockers. Porter was the leader on both ends of the floor, scoring 14 points and adding 5 of CNU's 10 first-half steals.

In the second half, the Yellow Jackets outscored CNU in the third quarter, 18-17, but ran out of gas against the torrid CNU defense in the fourth, where the Captains extended their lead with a 20-9 finish. The 84 points is the fourth highest scoring output in NCAA Tournament play history for CNU, and the most since a 98-point first round victory last season. 

Balance continued to show for CNU offensively as 13 players got into the scorebook in the second round victory. After the two leading scorers, a handful of Captains finished between 5-7 points, led by a strong performance from junior Jessica Daguilh. The third-year forward scored seven points, hauled in a team-high seven rebounds, added three steals, and two blocked shots. Byrd played only six minutes, but filled the sheet as well, scoring seven points with three rebounds and three steals. 

Williams finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 blocks for the Yellow Jackets, while teammate Charlotte Woods also registered a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Turnovers plagued R-MC, as they finished with 31 giveaways that CNU would score 30 points from. 

Christopher Newport will take on Hope, ranked fourth in the nation, in the sectional semifinals next Friday, March 9. Game times and location are yet to be determined by the NCAA championship committee and will be announced Sunday.  It will be the second all-time meeting in the NCAA Tournament between Hope and CNU.