Saturday, March 19, 2011

CNU takes third at D-III nationals

Christopher Newport finished the greatest season in program history in the winner's circle Saturday - and gave head coach Carolyn Hunter a great birthday present - by topping host Illinois Wesleyan 64-58 in the third-place game of the NCAA Division III championships.

Amherst (32-1), which defeated CNU in Friday's semifinals, went on to claim the national title with a 64-55 victory over defending champion Washington University.

Captains star Chelsie Schweers scored a game-high 23 points and finished the tournament with a Division III-record 174 points in the six games. The program's first-ever four-time All-American ends her career with a Division III-record 415 3-pointers and 2,869 points, second on the D-III all-time scoring list and the most by any women's player at a Virginia college at any level.

But as has been the case all season, Schweers had plenty of help Saturday. Kimmy Hopkins had 11 points - 9 pivotal ones in the second half - on 5-of-7 shooting in just 18 minutes. Lauren Gural, who had a double-double in Friday's semifinals, added 10 points in the third-place game. Rebounding ace Barbara Davis had 8 points and 11 boards. And freshman Chantal Thomas came up huge in her career-high 25-minute stint with solid defense, poise against the Illinois Wesleyan press and two big free throws with 18 seconds left that expanded CNU's advantage to 4.

Schweers was the lone Captain named to the all-tournament team. The tournament's most outstanding player was Amherst's Caroline Stedman.

The Captains ended with a 30-4 record, the program's second straight 30-win season and the second-best record in team history after last season's 30-1 mark.

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