St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball Gears up for CAC Tournament

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Photo courtesy of smcmathletics.com

On Dec. 29, 2016, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Men’s Basketball team was looking ahead at another promising season. At the start of conference play, they had a record of seven to three. They were in a prime position to make a run at the conference championship. However, in the ensuing days the Seahawks went on to lose four straight games – with three of them in conference.

Moving ahead to late January, the Seahawks were just three and seven against in conference team. They were in serious danger of failing to make the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) tournament. In fact, they needed to go on a serious winning streak in order to make up ground. Then, almost as if scripted, they did just that. The Seahawks went on to win five of their last eight games in order to finish the season at 8-10 in the CAC. In doing so, they ended up securing a tournament slot.

A dominant turning point on the season was the game against Mary Washington on Feb. 8. At the end of the first half, the Seahawks saw themselves down by just three points. They then began the second half by going on a 17-13 run to take the lead. Mary Washington however went on a run of their own and took a four point lead with about two minutes remaining. St. Mary’s ended up battling back and winning the game 86-85 on buzzer-beating layup by junior LaVonte Sanders. Junior Delaszo Smith led the team in points with 20 total, while both Ochae Bynum and Sanders added 18 points a piece.                            

Despite this thrilling victory, the Seahawks started off their ensuing game slowly. In an in conference battle against Frostburg State on Feb. 11, St. Mary’s fell far behind at the half – trailing 41-28. It took the Seahawks ten minutes to score. St. Mary’s brought the defensive pressure and flipped the script in the second half as the Seahawks outscored Frostburg, 47-29, over the final 20 minutes. After the half, St. Mary’s began to show some life as they went on a 31-16 run in order to claim their first lead of the game. Juniors Chris Craft and Smith later combined for nine points on a 15-5 run, which closed out the game (Moran smcmathletics.com).

The next game for the Seahawks was against Salisbury, who defeated St. Mary’s 64-59 earlier on in the season. Yet again, St. Mary’s fell behind early as they trailed at just 22-9 about halfway through the first half. They were able to come back with just two at the half, leaving them at 37-35. The second half mainly consisted of back and forth lead changes, until St. Mary’s took the lead for good with about six minutes left in the game. The Seahawks would coast to an 85-73 win in front of a crowd of 300 fans. Freshman Tre Mouton came off the bench to lead the team in points (twenty-three), while going a perfect eleven for eleven from the field. Smith added another eighteen points in the effort.

On Feb. 18, St. Mary’s squared off against Southern Virginia University (SVU) in their final game of the season. Having already clinched a CAC tournament slot, a win would give the Seahawks a home tournament game. St. Mary’s did obtain a lead of 70-69 with just over four minutes remaining in the game. They even increased the lead to 74-69 with only two minutes remaining; however, with under a minute remaining in the game, SVU crawled back into it by taking a 76-74 lead. Ultimately their lead would hold as they went ahead to defeat St. Mary’s 82-77 (smcmathletics.com). Despite the outcome, it was still a hard fought game for the Seahawks.

St. Mary’s now goes into the CAC tournament as the number five seed. They will take on number four seed Marymount on Feb. 21.

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