NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Christopher Newport’s women’s basketball team is on an unprecedented roll for a college basketball team in the Hampton Roads region.
Not only have the Captains’ women (26-0) yet to lose this season and are the top-ranked team in the nation, they’ve won 69 of their past 70 games, have 38 consecutive home wins and are coming off their fourth-consecutive conference championship.
The Captains’ men’s team, however, is no slouch, having gone 24-3 and ranked No. 2 nationally.
Both begin their respective title quests Friday when they open play in the NCAA Division III tournament.
CNU’s women (26-0) host Brooklyn College (19-7) at 8:30 p.m. Friday in their seventh-straight NCAA tournament appearance and their ninth in 10 seasons with coach Bill Broderick. The Captains have made two Final Fours in the past seven years.
The Captains’ women are led by fifth-year senior guard Sondra Fan, who played high school hoops locally at Poquoson. She leads the team with 14.3 points-per-game.
“Now every team is 0-0, everyone’s made it into the tournament,” Fan said. “We all get a fresh, clean slate, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Senior Anaya Simmons, averaging 13.8 points and 8 rebounds per game, leads the country with a 67.7% shooting percentage. Simmons, from Williamsburg (Jamestown HS), is one of a trio of players from the Hampton Roads region along with Fan and Alivia Giles, a junior from Suffolk (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) averaging 6.7 points-per-game.
Junior guard Gabbi San Diego said the team is humble as it begins its national title quest.
“I think we’re super hungry, really competitive, and just really trying to take it a day at a time, a game at a time,” San Diego said. “It’s easy to get ahead of yourself at a time like this, you hear the rankings, and stuff like that, but we’re just trying to stay focused on Brooklyn this Friday.”
The men make the short trip to Hampden-Sydney for a 4:50 p.m. tipoff Friday against Farmingdale State (21-7) of New York, as CNU will take part in their 26th NCAA appearance in the 55-year history of the program. If the Captains win, they’ll play at 7:20 p.m. Saturday against either host Hampden-Sydney or Emory.
The Captains’ men, who lost by two points in the Elite Eight last season, feature three Norview High School graduates, including first-team all-C2C player, junior Jahn Hines, averaging 17.2 points-per-game and a shade over five rebounds per game.
They’re coming off a Coast to Coast Athletic Conference tournament title, beating Mary Washington 65-52. Jahn Hines’ brother, Collin Hines also played at Norview along with junior Jamaal Madison.
Matt Brodie, a fifth-year senior, averages 11.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and junior Trey Barber averages 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
“I feel like we’ve been ready for awhile,” said CNU men’s coach John Krikorian. “I feel like this group is as ready as several we’ve had recently. And it’s March Madness. There’s a lot of good teams that can do it.
“It’s a little bit of a matter of who wants it the most, but then also matchups and breaks along the way. You’ve got to enjoy this thing. You have to appreciate it and go and just give it your best shot. You can’t put pressure on yourself. You can’t get tight ’cause the teams that advance are having fun.
Krikorian, in his 12th season at CNU, is confident his team will be one of those teams.
“Are we good enough? Absolutely,” Krikorian said. “Not a doubt in my mind.”