February 13, 2012

Seniors Shine During Win Over Mary Baldwin

Written by Chris Pendleton

BUENA VISTA, Va.—Led by its two seniors playing in the final home game of their careers—Nicole Baker finished with a team-high 28 points while Cara Joyner led the Knights with 13 rebounds—the Southern Virginia University women's basketball team won its third consecutive game on Monday defeating NCAA Division III Mary Baldwin College 65-50 in the Knight Sports Arena.

Baker's (Burley, Idaho) 28 came on an efficient 11-for-16 shooting, while Joyner (Columbia, Miss.) added 10 points to her 13 boards giving the senior her first double-double of the season.

"It has been an honor and a pleasure to have Cara and Nicole a part of the program," said thirteen-year Head Coach Mike Harmon following Monday's game. "Each has contributed so much and will leave a lasting legacy. Their team mates and I will miss them but we know they are moving on to the next part of their lives and will do so with class and dignity. "

Southern Virginia (11-9) struggled out of the gate on Senior Night falling behind 0-6 to the Fighting Squirrels after Mary Baldwin (7-15) opened with back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening 54 seconds of action.

Neither team scored during the next three minutes of play until Amaris Newkirk (Folsom, N.M.) hit the second of two free throws giving Southern Virginia its first point of the evening at the 15:44 mark.

The Knights' defense kept them in the game over the next nine minutes as Southern Virginia fought back to take its first lead (11-10) of the evening on a made jump shot from Joyner with 7:37 remaining in the half. From that point on, the Knights outscored the Fighting Squirrels 18-8 taking a nine-point lead (29-18) into halftime.

Mary Baldwin opened the second half on a 9-2 run cutting Southern Virginia's lead to four (31-27) with just under 18 minutes left in the game, but the Knights would score nine unanswered points over the next five minutes pushing their advantage above double-digits (40-27) with under 13 minutes on the clock. 

The Fighting Squirrels would come no closer than eight-points the rest of the way while the Knights led by as many as 22 on the way to a 15-point victory.

Despite an off shooting night—the Knights made on 36.2 percent of their shots on the evening— Southern Virginia was able to win with defense holding Mary Baldwin under 30 percent shooting for the game while forcing the Fighting Squirrels into 29 turnovers leading to 34 points.

Southern Virginia's two seniors had support from freshman Larissa Conger (Merino, Colo.) scored a career-high 13 points against Mary Baldwin to go along six rebounds. Newkirk also added 10 rebounds and a game-high eight assists in the win.

The Knights have one day off before going for their fourth consecutive win on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at Trinity College (12-6) in Washington, D.C. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. EDT.

Watch a replay of tonight's victory over Mary Baldwin on the Southern Virginia Athletics online broadcast portal.