By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- After dropping behind 4-0 in the first two minutes of play to Shenandoah University, Mary Washington took almost the entire game to recover, but recover they did to topple the Hornets 83-72 in overtime during the final game of the 2010 South Region Challenge at Shingleton Gym.
"We didn't start very well and they jumped on us early," Eagles coach Ron Wood said. "We always fight hard to get back into the game, but tonight was the first time we've actually been successful, so I'm very pleased with our effort."
Mary Washington's press proved to be the undoing of Shenandoah, which led from the opening tip to last minute of regulation. After trailing for the entire game, the Eagles finally tied the score at 66-66 on a jumper by Tad Dickson with 59 seconds left in regulation.
It was fitting that Dickson's basket came off a Hornets turnover because too many turnovers was, in the end, what cost Shenandoah the game.
"This was very disappointing," Hornets coach Robert Harris said. "We just didn't take care of the ball. We had the game under control, even down the stretch, but 34 turnovers is totally unacceptable. Our guard play was very poor tonight, and that cost us the game."
It wasn't just the 34 turnovers for the game; it was 24 turnovers by the Hornets in the second half to three for the Eagles.
"We're very young," Wood said. "We play so many freshmen, and we aren't a very good shooting team. So we have to find another way to win the game. We have to use our press to force a lot of turnovers, and turn them into layups to be successful."
With the clock winding down, it was one of Wood's freshmen who proved to be the hero in the dramatic comeback. After Dominic Chapman got the Hornets back on top 68-66 with 20 seconds left on a 17-foot fade-away jumper, Mary Washington failed to get the tying bucket in three tries on their next possession.
But with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock, Eagles freshman Matt Boward drew a foul on Morgan Winn while fighting for a rebound under the Mary Washington basket.
"Matt has only played four minutes all season coming into this game," Wood said. "We had been using a junior and a senior at his position, but they just hadn't performed up to expectations so far, so we decided to give him a chance."
Boward used his chance to sink both free throws to tie the score 68-68 and send it into overtime.
"Although Matt didn't have a good shooting night, he was 6-of-6 from the line, and pulled down nine rebounds, five of which were offensive rebounds," Wood said. "For a freshman, I'll take that every time."
The Eagles completely dominated the overtime period, jumping ahead 70-68 on two free throws by J. R. Gray, and never looking back. The Hornets, who had led at one point in the first half by as many as 13 points, were outscored 15-4 in overtime.
"We are going to have to make some personnel adjustments right away," Harris said. "We need to find some guards who can take care of the ball. If we make good decisions with the ball against their press, then it shouldn't be a problem."
Kevin Kline led the Hornets with 20 points, including a 2-for-2 performance from beyond the 3-point line. Mitch Dudley contributed 14 points for the Hornets, and led the team with 14 rebounds. Brandon Bryan scored 16 for Shenandoah.
Boward, despite coming off the bench and hitting just three of his 13 field goal attempts, ended the game with 13 points, and his nine rebounds led the team. E. J. Willis was the top scorer for Mary Washington with 14 points.