Captains Hold Off No. 24 Randolph-Macon in Season Opener, 77-70
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- In the 2012-13 season opener, the Christopher Newport University Captains (1-0) stung the 24th-ranked Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon College (0-1), 77-70. With a pair of double-doubles from junior Tra Benefield and sophomore Nik Biberaj, the Captains held off the potent R-MC attack.
Benefield finished with a game-high 25 points, adding 10 rebounds, while Biberaj poured in 21 points and grabbed a game-high 11 boards.
After falling behind, 5-0, to start the game, the Captains ran off an impressive 18-3 run to take a 10-point lead midway through the first half. A three-point play by sophomore point guard Mike Cherry punctuated the surge, while Benefield scored eight of eleven to give the Captains an 18-8 lead just six minutes into the stanza.
The Yellow Jackets would respond, though, clawing back to tie things up at 20 with a 12-2 run of their own, finished off by a pair of layups by Dylan Cole. After trading baskets for the next four minutes of action, the Captains took control again, with an 11-0 spurt to take the biggest lead of the game, a 13-point edge at 41-28. Macon finished out the first half with nine of the last 12 points to close the gap to just eight at the break, 43-35.
CNU shot 43.6% in the first half on 17-39 shooting, while R-MC hit 38.1% of their shots on 16-42. CNU crashed the boards, outrebounding the bigger front line of the Yellow Jackets, 28-25. Defensively, CNU blocked three shots with five steals.
Benefield poured in 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting including a pair of trey's in the first half. Biberaj filled the stat sheet, adding 12 points, four rebounds, an assist, block and steal.
In the second half, Christopher Newport surged out to a pair of 10-point leads early, as Biberaj converted a three-point play to pull ahead 49-39, and then again on a Paul Meredith layup, 51-41.
Randolph-Macon started to look inside as the half wore on, closing to within five twice, but CNU held on to a two-possession lead until the 7-minute mark. The Yellow Jackets scored nine straight points to pull within one at 60-59 with 6:33 remaining. After a free-throw by Cherry, Macon finished off the comeback with an Andre Simon layup with 6:13 showing, tying the game at 61 apiece.
As the visitors threatened, CNU would bounce back and pulled away for good in the final five minutes. A 13-2 run over the next four minutes of action gave CNU a 74-63 lead with just over two minutes remaining. With solid free-throw shooting down the stretch, the Captains came away with the upset.
Benefield finished 9-for-14 from the field, hitting three trey's and finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Biberaj blocked a pair of shots to go with his 21 points and 11 boards. Cherry also added 16 points, dishing three assists and picking up a pair of steals.
Randolph-Macon also had three players in double figures, led by Lamar Giggets with a double-double (14 pts, 10 reb). Dylan Cole (11 pts) and Connor Sullivan (13 pts) rounded out the top performances for the Yellow Jackets.
Christopher Newport improves to 1-0 this season, improving to 36-11 all-time in season-openers. The Captains will travel to Salisbury University for the team's first road game on Tuesday, November 20. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm.