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UMW Women’s Basketball: New-look Eagles still pack familiar defense



After suffering just one defeat all of last season, the University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team dealt with a pair of losses in May.

The graduation of all-Capital Athletic Conference standouts Katie Wimmer and Jenna McRae from a 30–1 team that reached the NCAA’s Division III quarterfinals meant the Eagles had to reinvent themselves.

This edition has experienced a few rough patches. But Wednesday night’s 64–48 victory over visiting Ferrum showed that UMW still can rely on a smothering defense to stay competitive.

“We recognized we had to have a new identity,” said junior guard Sam Partonen, who scored a game-high 17 points. “People graduate, and we had new roles to fill.

“The great thing about this team is that everyone contributes. We have so much to offer.”

This season’s Eagles (13–5) don’t have the gaudy record of last year’s team, which allowed fewer points per game than any NCAA team (men’s or women’s) at any level.

But on Wednesday, they held’s 20th-ranked team to barely half of its season scoring average of 83.2 points per game.

Ferrum (14–2) arrived at the Anderson Center leading the nation in team field-goal percentage (47.5). The Panthers made just 16 of 53 shots (30.2 percent) against UMW’s active defense. Their leading scorer, Jacole Hairston, managed just six points on 2-for-9 shooting.

“I felt coming into this game that a lot had to do with which team could dictate the pace of play,” Ferrum coach Bryan Harvey said. “They were a little tougher than we were. They dictated the pace of play and took us out of what we wanted to do.”

Carol Dye had a lot to do with that. The 6-foot-2 center—UMW’s only senior—blocked six shots and collected 14 rebounds, both game-high totals.

In her last three games (all wins), Dye has 44 boards. She scored just six points Wednesday, but had a major influence on the outcome.

“She’s really taken it on her shoulders,” Eagles coach Deena Applebury said. “She’s realized that this is her senior year, so she’s going to give it all she’s got. She’s been doing a good job paying attention to detail, fighting for every loose ball and not worrying about points.”

In the absence of Wimmer and McRae, scoring has become an all-for-one campaign for the Eagles.

Partonen had the big night Wednesday, but Aby Diop’s 10 points and nine each from Aubrey Howland and reserves Claire Haeuptle and Brieneke Matthes were essential to the cause.

Still, it was up to UMW’s veterans to deliver at a key juncture.

Ferrum never led, but pulled within 40–33 with 9:48 remaining. That’s when, on consecutive possessions, Partonen sank a 3-pointer, drove for a left-handed layup and made one of two free throws.

On the other end of the court, Dye smothered a pair of shots by Ferrum’s Katy Kipps, who led the Panthers with 15 points.

“You could see them getting frustrated and bickering at each other,” Dye said of the Panthers.

The feeling in the home locker room was decidedly different.

The Eagles endured a stretch of four losses in seven games against quality opponents while trying to discover who they are. They’re still tied with Marymount for the CAC lead at 5–1 at the midway point of league competition and have a chance to avenge their only conference loss Feb. 2 at home against the Saints.

By then, they hope to be even more united and battle-tested. Their next game is Saturday at Frostburg State.

“It’s taken a little time for them to realize that they can win with this group,” Applebury said. “Everybody’s on board now, not as much physically as psychologically. Now they realize we can win if we compete every single night.”


    Ferrum (14–2): Kelsey Frazier 2, Katy Kipps 15, Jacole Hairston 6, Telsa Akers 4, Shea Smith 6, Rachel Dalton 0, Boreika Burwell 2, Kemani Crawford 2, Kylene Culler 9, Jessica Rhodes 2. Totals: 16 15–20 48.

    Mary Washington (13–5): Aby Diop 10, Aubrey Howland 9, Carol Dye 6, Sam Partonen 17, Erin Drumheller 2, Amanda Witmer 0, Caitlin Ciniero 2, Claire Haeuptle 9, Brieneke Matthes 9. Totals: 23 14–22 64.

    Halftime: UMW, 22–20. Three-point goals: Ferrum 1–7 (Akers); UMW 4–8 (Matthes 2, Partonen, Haeuptle). Rebounds: Ferrum 27 (Culler 7), UMW 40 (Dye 14).

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443

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