The University of Mary Washington men's basketball team saw the greatest season in school history come to a close on Saturday in front of 1900 fans at the Anderson Center, falling to Williams College, 79-46, in the NCAA Division III Tournament Quarterfinals. The eagles finish with a school-record 25 wins, and close at 25-6 overall.
The undersized Eagles, whose motto "Play Angry" exemplified their all-out style of play all season, continued on Saturday night, but the cumulative wear of 30 games of giving their maximum finally took its toll.
"I'm so proud of these guys", said a teary UMW head coach Rod Wood, surrounded by his seniors and junior captain Taylor Johnson, in the post game press conference. "In defeat, I'm just as proud as I've been of these boys after every win. Tonight, we just hit the wall I thought we'd hit a month ago, or in some guys' cases, two months ago, or four."
"Tonight, we played a great team, with a great scheme, a great coach, and great players. Our guys gave everything they had once again. What these guys will look back on in years to come will be nothing but great memories... To give every ouce of themselves and see what is truly possible."
As for the game itself, the Ephs came out strong, while the Eagles, who rank as one of the top three point shooting teams in the nation, struggled on numerous open looks from the outset. The Eagles fell behind, but held a 5-4 edge with 16:33 left in the first half on a Johnson three pointer.
From there Williams went on an 11-0 run to push the lead to 15-5 with 13:05 left, and built the lead to 23 by halftime, at 43-20. The Ephs shot a blistering 53.1% from the field in the opening frame (17-32), while the Eagles shot just 19.4% (7-36), connecting on just 4-28 three pointers.
The second half was more of the same, as Williams shot 53.8% (14-26), while UMW went 8-29 (27.6%). In all, the Eagles made 7-45 three pointers.
Mary Washington was led by senior Dajon Daniel's 10 points and six rebounds, while Dylan Farinet scored nine. Bradley Riester scored eight, and Johnson and freshman John Lutkenhaus each scored seven. Williams was led by Taylor Epley's 19 points.
"Seeing the atmosphere on campus the past two days, and knowing we did something historic this year - together - is something I'll always take with me", said senior guard Marcellus Holley. "It's something I hope we pass to the younger guys, who can take this going forward and do even better."