Senior guard Bradley Riester scored a game-high 22 points to lead the 17th ranked University of Mary Washington men's basketball team to its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, a 78-58 win over Springfield College on Friday night in Ashland, Va. in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament. The Eagles improve to 23-5 on the season.
"It was great to see a lot of friends and family in the stands", said Riester, who grew up in Richmond, afterwards. "It felt like a home game environment, and that made us feel very comfortable."
The Eagles jumped ahead early, scoring the first seven points of the game on a pair of Dajon Daniel layups and a Riester three. The Pride battled back, taking a 13-11 lead after a 13-4 run over a four-minute span.
From there, UMW responded with a 17-0 run over the next seven minutes, with Riester scoring 12 of the points on four three pointers. The Pride trimmed the deficit to seven at 35-28, with 18 seconds left in the half, but a pair of Dom Morra free throws with three seconds left gave the Eagles a 37-28 advantage at halftime.
Riester almost single handedly put the Eagles on his back in the first half, shooting 6-7 from the field, including a perfect 5-5 from three-point range to account for 17 points.
In the second, the Pride made several runs, but each time the Eagles came up with an answer offensively, primarily from freshman Asa Scott, who scored all eleven of his points in the second half to tie his career high. The Eagles lead was cut to eight at 61-53 with 4:49 remaining in regulation, but the Eagles used a pair of Scott three pointers followed by a Morra layup to up the lead to 17 at 70-53 with 1:49 left.
The Eagles closed the game on a 17-5 run, as junior Taylor Johnson capped the night by connecting on four free throws in the final minute.
"This team doesn't have an all-airport look to it", said UMW head coach Rod Wood. "But what we lack in height, we make up for with playing as hard as we can for 40 minutes, extending the defense offensively, and being aggressive."
Riester led all scorers with 22 points on 8-12 shooting, making 6-8 three pointers, and also added five rebounds. Johnson scored 12 points, thank primarily to 7-8 free throw shooting, and Scott scored 11 points on 4-8 shooting with three three pointers. Morra recorded 14 assists, one shy of the school record, and added eight points and five rebounds. Senior Dajon Daniel scored nine points in a balanced Eagles attack.
UMW shot 46.3% from the floor for the game (25-54), making 12-29 three pointers, and went 16-20 from the free throw line. The Eagles were outrebounded, 35-25, but forced 19 Springfield turnovers while committing just six in the game.
Springfield shot 41.3% from the field, making 10-24 three pointers, and went 10-13 from the charity stripe.
The Eagles will face DeSales University, who defeated host Randolph-Macon in overtime, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the second round in Ashland, Va.
TICKETS: Mary Washington will sell 200 tickets at 10:00 a.m. at the ticket window of the Anderson Center at UMW until 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, and all tickets will cost $6. Remaining tickets will be sold at RMC at 6:00 p.m. in the alumni gymnasium.