SU roundup: Hornets earn season-opening win

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah University men’s basketball team opened up its 2013-14 season Friday night with an 84-77 victory over former USA South Conference rival Methodist in the opening round of the 2013 BB&T Tip-Off Classic.

The victory snaps a 19-game losing streak for the Hornets (1-0) that stretched back to a 91-62 Old Dominion Athletic Conference loss to Hampden-Sydney on Dec. 5, 2012.

The win also means that SU advances to Saturday’s 8 p.m. BB&T Championship against Hood College. The Blazers qualified for the 8 p.m. tilt by downing McDaniel 85-70 in Friday’s opening game of the tournament.

Methodist (0-1) and McDaniel face off at 6 p.m. in the consolation contest.

Trailing 36-27 at the break and by 10 points on two different occasions in the second, Shenandoah rallied for the win by shooting a sizzling 56 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes of play.

Despite the strong shooting performance, a 49-33 rebounding deficit to the Monarchs translated into a 73-67 MU lead with 2:03 remaining.

Senior Avery Green, who led all scorers with 29 points, began the comeback for coach Rob Pryor’s club with a 3-pointer at the 1:55 mark.

A Jimi Starks steal 25 seconds later turned into a Bryce Mitchell fast break layup, and following another Methodist turnover, this one by Keemon Ingram at 1:14, Green drained a turnaround runner in the middle of the lane to give the hosts a 74-73 lead.

The capacity crowd at Shingleton Gymnasium went nuts, and the Hornets never trailed again.

Mitchell had another layup at the 41 second mark and after Green nailed two free throws with 25 seconds remaining, SU looked to be in control with a 78-74 lead.

But Methodist wasn’t finished.

Ingram hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to make it 78-77 and the Monarchs began to foul in an attempt to steal the victory.

The strategy appeared to work, as Jared Carithers missed the second of two from the line, but Xavier Alston snagged the rebound and was flagrantly fouled on the miss to put him on the line with 12 seconds left.

Alston hit both of his shots from the free-throw line and on the ensuing possession due to the flagrant foul call, Starks hit one of two to extend the advantage to 82-77.

Starks was called for a technical on the foul, giving MU two shots from the line, but TJ Gill missed both to effectively end the contest.

In addition to Green’s 29, Carithers had 16 and Mitchell 10.

Bryan Hockaday had 17 to go along with a game-high 16 boards for the Monarchs.

Women’s basketball

ASHLAND — Rutgers-Newark used a big run to start the second half on its way to a 75-57 victory over Shenandoah in the opening round of the Randolph-Macon Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night in the women’s basketball season opener for both schools.

Rutgers-Newark (1-0) scored eight of the initial 10 points of the second half to pull away from Shenandoah (0-1).

The Hornets had cut their deficit to six points, 38-32, thanks to an Imani Heggins layup with 48 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.

The Scarlet Knights then came out of the halftime break on fire, hitting a layup at 19:32 before getting six consecutive points from Sharee Gordon to extend their lead to 46-34 with 16:59 remaining.

Only a Holly Chittenden layup at 19:21 broke up this opening run.

This spurt eventually extended itself to 20-7 before senior Crystal Petrus drained a 3-pointer with 10:59 left.

Mary Severin backed up Petrus’ 3-ball with a jumper at 10:14, but SU would get no closer than 17-points the rest of the way.

Trailing 73-49 with 2:41 remaining, Shenandoah scored eight of the game’s final 12 points to provide the final margin of victory.

Chittenden led the Hornets with 18 points, she was 10 of 10 from the line, while Heggins added 13 and Severin 12.

Shenandoah shot 38 percent from the field.

SU completes play in the tournament with a 6:30 game Saturday night against No. 3/6 Christopher Newport.