NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Hampton Roads' Division III basketball bragging rights will belong to Virginia Wesleyan College for an incredible 11th consecutive year.
The Marlins motored across the Chesapeake Bay to face No. 16 Christopher Newport University's Captains and pinned a 79-66 loss on the host team before a partisan crowd of 1,487 at the Freeman Center. It was only CNU's second loss at home this season in 12 games.
Virginia Wesleyan put on a three-point shooting clinic in the first half to take control of the non-conference game, hitting nine of 12 triple attempts in the half. Senior Chris Astorga (Suffolk/Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate) hit two and senior Tre' Ford (Falls Church/J.E.B. Stuart) and sophomore Cameron Owens (Centreville/Centreville) hit one each, all in the final 4:15, en route to opening up a 47-32 halftime lead. VWC's first half scoring ended with a VWC crowd-rousing dunk by junior Colby Heard (Virginia Beach/Tallwood) off a feed from Ford with two seconds on the clock.
VWC (15-6) opened up the second half with another triple as Chris Teasley (Newport News/Menchville) hit the long-ranger to open up a 50-32 lead. It was the first of three more triples recorded by the Marlins in the second half, with the other two coming in back-to-back fashion from juniorDJ Woodmore (Virginia Beach/Landstown) to expand the Virginia Wesleyan lead to 62-43 with 13:58 remaining to be played.
Christopher Newport (15-4) got timely scoring from Evan Thorpe (Richmond/Henrico) and Tra Benefield (Folkston, Ga./Evangel Christian, Va.) to keep Virginia Wesleyan from running away, but the Marlins from Virginia Beach managed to open up their largest lead of the game at 71-51 following a trio of points from Heard with 8:27 on the clock.
CNU never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Balanced scoring propelled the Marlins to the impressive win, led by Astorga with 17 points, Heard with 16, Ford with 15 and Woodmore with 13. Astorga nailed 7-of-16 field goals, including three triples, and Heard hit 7-of-11 shots inside. VWC connected on 46.8% from the field for the game, helped by a 52.2% showing from three point range.
Virginia Wesleyan hit 12-of-23 triples overall, led by Ford with a 4-of-5 effort from beyond the arc. Woodmore and Astorga connected on three each. The Marlins outrebounded CNU 42-40, led by Woodmore with 12 and Teasley with seven. Ford helped the win with a game-high five assists.
CNU was led in scoring by Mike Cherry (Lewiston, N.C./Bertie) with 15 points and Nik Biberaj (Fairfaix/South Couny) with 14. Thorpe added 13 points and Benefield finished with 12. Thorpe led all rebounding with 13. The Captains attempted 11 triples and hit three, and hit only 37% from the field for the game.
Virginia Wesleyan steps back into Old Dominion Athletic Conference competition on Wednesday, Feb. 6, visiting Harrisonburg for a 7 p.m. start against the host Royals of Eastern Mennonite University.