By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER - Shenandoah mens basketball coach Rob Harris sat in his office, his silk tie folded and stuffed into his right coat pocket, his forehead glistening with tiny marbles of sweat.
The way he leaned forward in his chair, then leaned back, then forward again, suggested Harris was exhausted. And why shouldn't he be?
Following a 62-60 win over USA South rival Christopher Newport (5-6, 0-1 USA South) on Wednesday, in which Shenandoah (4-9, 1-0 USA South) trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, Harris was likely teetering on the brink of being merely fatigued and utterly spent.
But the Hornets got their win, an elusive fourth win of the season following back to back losses to close out the month of December, and for that moment, while Harris sat perspiring in his office, that's all that mattered.
"We have not played very well, and I told them we could do this," Harris said. "But it's not about me, it's about those kids that have to believe -- they have to believe that they can get the job done."
The 13 points Shenandoah gave up off turnovers in the first half bothered Harris, of course. In fact, the points off turnovers made him livid.
"That really got underneath my skin," he said.
But that could be dealt with later. As could the 18 points in the paint the Hornets gave up in the first half. For Harris, Wednesday night would be about taking in the first conference win of the season.
The win, which came down to a layup by Hornet point guard Kenny Robertson with a second left in the game, was indeed a tale of two halves: the first, inexplicably inept for Shenandoah, the second spectacularly efficient.
The Hornets shot only 27.6 percent from the floor in the first half, and with go-to big man Kevin Kline hindered by a groin injury, forward Chris Schrader had to shoulder much of SU's post play.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Brandon Bryan, along with buckets by Schrader and Mitchell Dudley, helped cut a 15-point halftime deficit to six to start the second half, and consecutive scores by Schrader finally brought SU to within 56-55 of CNU.
Robertson's score to end the game gave Shenandoah only its second lead of the game, but it was a lead they kept.
"[Schrader's] our x-factor, whether he knows it or not," Robertson said. "'Cause he's the type of guy that can go up for 30 [points] any night, he has that kind of talent and ability."
Schader finished the night with a team-high 18 points. Bryan scored 17 points while Robertson and Lenzie Adams each added nine.
The women's game, which preceded the men's, was nearly identical in its progression. The women suffered a 20-point deficit in the second half, thanks in large part to inefficient scoring in the first half, while simultaneously being scored upon quite efficiently.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the final minutes lacked the same flair of the men's game, and so Shenandoah (5-5, 1-3 USA South) fell to Christopher Newport (11-0, 4-0) 64-56.
A career-high 24 points from SU point guard Katherine Flint brought the Hornets to within six points of the captains with 1:27 left in the game, but the senior could only do so much without proper post play.
"I just really wanted to come out there and make a statement that they're just another team -- they're girls just like us," Flint said.
"I really was wishing our team would have got up more in the first half, we came out and really hustled the second half, but I wish we would have brought that the first half."
Mandy Johnston (12 points) was the only other Hornet to score in double figures.