Written by Chris Pendleton
BUENA VISTA, Va.—On a night when the Southern Virginia University men's basketball team dedicated its performance to Nattie Brooks, wife of senior shooting guard Payton Brooks, the Knights pulled off an emotional 63-53 comeback victory over the University of Mary Washington and extended their home winning streak to a school record 24 games.
"We really wanted to win tonight for Nattie and we're so thankful for all the fans who turned out to support this cause," said first-year Head Coach Tony Caputo, who has Southern Virginia (10-3) off to its best start ever. "Once in awhile sports can transcend the ordinary and become more than just a game. We all felt like tonight was one of those rare moments."
The Knights sported teal socks for Wednesday's game, while a record Southern Virginia home crowd also dressed in teal to show support for Nattie, who at the age of 24 was recently diagnosed with Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD).
"Before tonight, Nattie had never missed one of Payton's home games in two-and-a-half years of marriage," Caputo said. "When we found out she couldn't attend tonight because of her chemotherapy treatment, we decided to play in her honor and the support from our fans and the entire Southern Virginia community was wonderful."
Southern Virginia got off to a slow start against the visiting Eagles (8-10) on Wednesday scoring only 11 points over the first 12 minutes of play. Trailing by eight points (19-11) with less than eight minutes remaining in the opening half, the Knights closed out the period on a 21-13 run capped by an Anders Jacobson (Kitty Hawk, N.C.) layup just three second before halftime that tied the game at 32-32 heading into the break.
The Knights carried their momentum from the end of the first period into the second outscoring Mary Washington 23-3 during the opening 11:05 of the second half. Mary Washington cut Southern Virginia's lead all the way down to ten points with 15 seconds remaining, but time ran out on a potential Eagles comeback as the Knights won their fourth consecutive game of 2013.
"We struggled tonight offensively, but our defense was solid and won us the game," said Caputo.
Southern Virginia shot 43.4 percent (23-53) for the game, while holding Mary Washington to 36.5 percent (19-for-52) shooting. The Knights also forced 20 turnovers on the evening leading to 14 points.
Four different Southern Virginia players reached double figures against the Eagles with Casey Nye (Kaysville, Va.) leading the way with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting, while grabbing a game-high 3 steals. A. Jacobson, Isaac Jacobson (Kitty Hawk, N.C.) and Weseley Evans (Crystal Lake, Ill.) all reached double figures as well with 13, 11 and 10 respectively.
Andrew Bailey (Cheyenne, Wyo.) led the Knights for the second straight game with 7 rebounds.
Mary Washington's leading scorer was freshman Lamont Fields, who netted 10 points off the bench for the Eagles.
Southern Virginia's school record 24-game home winning streak will be tested again on Saturday when the Knights host USCAA-rival The Apprentice School (13-6) on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. The Shipbuilders were the last team to beat the Knights on their home floor back on Feb. 13, 2010.
Watch live as the Knights attempt to extend their home winning streak to 25 games.