McRae, Witmer Lead #7 UMW Women's Basketball Past Messiah in NCAA Tourney 2nd Round, 53-50

Senior Jenna McRae scored a game-high 20 points and freshman Amanda Witmer scored a career-high 10 off the bench to lead the seventh-ranked University of Mary Washington women's basketball team to a come-from-behind 53-50 win over Messiah College on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament at the Anderson Center. With the win, the Eagles extend their perfect record to 29-0 and the longest win streak in school history, and will advance to the Sweet 16 next Friday.

Mary Washington jumped out to an early lead at 6-2 in the opening minutes thanks to layups from McRae, Carol Dye, and Aby Diop, but Messiah answered with a 5-0 run to take the lead at 7-6 with 15:09 remaining. The lead changed hands twice more before the Falcons ran off a 15-2 run to grab a 25-12 lead with 5:25 left in the half. The Falcons stretched the lead to as many as 14, at 30-16, before baskets by Dye and senior Katie Wimmer cut the halftime deficit to 10, at 30-20.

In the second half, Messiah upped its lead to 12 at 34-22 with 17:36 remaining, before UMW ran off a 13-1 spurt to cut the deficit to one at 36-35 with 10:32 remaining. Witmer, who had scored just 32 points in UMW's first 28 games, provided a layup with 8:03 remaining to give UMW the lead, and added a free throw on the three-point play to move UMW's margin to 40-38.

Messiah's long-range shooting brought them back to take a 42-41 lead on a Taylor Miller with 6:19 left. Witmer answered with a three to give the lead back to the Eagles, who upped the lead to four at 48-44 with 1:55 to go on a pair of McRae free throws. A pair of three pointers from Nicky hess gave the Falcons the leads at 50-49 with 1:03 to play, but McRae scored a layup with 40 seconds remaining and added a pair of free throws with seven seconds left for the win.

The Eagles shot 42% from the field for the game (18-43), while limiting Messiah to 37% (20-53), including 33% in the second half. UMW won the rebound battle, 35-30, and blocked five shots, including three from Dye inside.

Mary Washington will move on to the sectional semifinals next Friday at a site to be determined against Lebanon Valley College, who topped Mount St. Mary's College, 70-53, on Saturday.