NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Behind a suffocating defensive effort, the 21st-ranked Christopher Newport men's basketball team bounced back with a convincing home win over St. Mary's College of Maryland (6-8, 0-3) on Wednesday night, 79-52. The Captains improved to 12-2, 2-1 overall behind a double-double from Marcus Carter (20 pts, 10 reb) and a stellar second-half by Savonte Chappell (17 pts).
Christopher Newport held the Seahawks to just 24.6% shooting (15-61), marking a season-best mark for the Captains' talented defense. It is the finest defensive effort in a game since holding Southern Virginia to just 24.1% shooting on February 15, 2017. The Captains blocked 11 shots, led by three apiece from Carter and Luther Gibbs.
The Captains were led by Carter in the first half and Chappell in the second as the wire-to-wire victory saw CNU lead by as many as 27. Carter scored 18 of his game-high 20 points before the break and Chappell scored all 17 of his after coming out of the locker room. The two were extremely efficient, knocking down a combined 12-of-19 shots to help lead an overall shooting performance by the Captains finishing at 50% (27-54).
Carter took control of the game early, scoring eight of CNU's first 13 points as the Captains took a 13-3 lead. Defensively, senior Tyler Femi earned a pair of early offensive foul calls by drawing charges and CNU ignited off of the hard-nosed play. After the initial burst by CNU, St. Mary's answered to cut the lead to five on two occasions, with the latest coming at 15-10 on a pair of free-throws with 11:34 left in the first half. From there, an 11-2 run by the Captains put the lead in double digits for the rest of the game.
CNU led at the break, 41-27, after Carter finished 5-of-8 with three made three-pointers. He also went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and added seven rebounds, three blocks, and a steal in the opening stanza. Spencer Schultz, the league's leading scorer, had 10 points at halftime for St. Mary's, but the CNU defense held the Seahawks to just 30% shooting (9-30).
Pounding the ball inside to Savonte Chappell early in the second half, the junior forward caught fire and carried CNU to a 25-point lead less than seven minutes into the frame. Chappell scored on both blocks and added his first career three-pointer in his second-half surge. The South Boston, Va. native was 6-for-7 from the field in the second half to finish with 17 points and 4 rebounds.
With Chappell steering the ship, the Captains held the lead over 20 points for the majority of the second half. With five minutes remaining, the Seahawks chipped away to make it 18, at 69-51, but Chappell's triple and traditional three-point play on two of the next three possessions regained the lead to a comfortable 23 points, 75-52.
In addition to the two leading scorers, the Captains got several impressive individual performances. Luther Gibbs filled the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals; Tyler Femi had 8 points and 6 assists; and Brock Geiman hauled in 8 rebounds in just 11 minutes of action. As a team, CNU outrebounded St. Mary's by a final count of 46-35 despite playing without starting forward Cutch Ellis.