No. 16/17 CNU Women Fall to Marymount in Finale, 52-46; Clinches No. 2 Seed in CAC Tournament

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- The nationally-ranked Christopher Newport women's basketball team saw it's 17-game winning streak snapped on Saturday afternoon, as the Marymount University Saints (21-4, 16-2) dropped the Captains (22-3, 15-3), 56-42.

The win clinched the regular season title for Marymount while CNU earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of a season sweep of Mary Washington, with whom they were tied in the final regular season standings. Christopher Newport will watch the third-seeded Eagles take on sixth-seeded St. Mary's (Md.) on Tuesday in the first round, and will host the winning team in Thursday evening's CAC semifinal at 6:00 pm. 

Playing in front of a season-high home crowd of over 600, the Captains played hard in the winner-takes-all showdown with the Saints for the regular season crown, but could not get going offensively against one of the toughest defenses in the country. Marymount ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense coming into Saturday's game and the veteran group lived up to that billing by holding CNU to just 46 points on 16 made field goals. 

The Captains got out in front, taking a pair of three-point leads in the early going. Bailey Dufrene converted a three-point play for the first points of the game nearly four minutes in, and then a layup by Devon Byrd made it 5-2 with 5:04 showing. Marymount responded with ten of the next 14 points to take a 12-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

The back-and-forth first half would see CNU re-take a 3-point lead with 6:49 remaining in the 2nd quarter when Anitra Thomas buried an open three in the corner. The score was tied six times and the lead changed hands seven times in the first half, but Marymount carried momentum into the half after scoring the last four points and taking a 29-25 edge into the locker room. 

The Saints would hit the first two shots of the second half to pull ahead by a game-high eight points, 33-25, when Kievanna Lacey picked off a pass and raced to the basket for an open court layup. CNU would not let Marymount extend any farther, however, and started to close the gap as the third quarter came to a close. With Marymount up 39-32, the Captains looked inside for rookie Jessica Daguilh and the freshman scored four straight points to get CNU back within three, 39-36. 

With just ten minutes left on the clock, the Captains continued to claw back, finally tying the game at 41 with 6:31 left in the game. Tyffani McQueen hit the first shot of the fourth quarter, but Daguilh converted 1-of-2 at the line and then banged home a second-chance layup to pull CNU within two, 41-39. Then, sophomore Devon Byrd was fouled after an offensive rebound and buried both free-throws to tie the game. 

It looked like momentum swung back in favor of the home team, but it wouldn't last as a three-pointer from Lacey, followed by a mid-range jumper by Nicole Viscuso quickly made the lead five again, 46-41. The CNU offense struggled to counter as the veteran Saints took care of the basketball and continued to play solid defense, holding on for the 52-46 win. 

Lacey led all scorers with 23 points while going 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. Lacey's 14 attempts were more than CNU took from the line as a team, as the Captains were 10-of-13 from the charity stripe. The Marymount senior also finished with four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Viscuso also got into double figures with 13 points, adding a team-high seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals. 

For Christopher Newport, Daguilh had the hot hand in the second half, finishing 6-for-7 from the field with 15 points and six rebounds. Jasmine Bonivel added seven points on 3-of-4 shooting off the bench as well, while the rest of the team combined to shoot just 7-for-31 in the game. Defensively, Zhara Tannor had another strong performance with six total steals against the Saints. 

CNU will now adjust focus to the postseason. Game time has been set for 6:00 pm on Thursday, February 25 in the Freeman Center, as the Captains will play a doublheader with the nationally-ranked men's team.