Tigers knock off defending national champions in season opener

Published 1:44 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

How do you top your team’s first NCAA tournament bid in 10 years? You go and knock off the defending national champion. In their season opener, No. 8 Hampden-Sydney beat NCAA Division III National Champion and preseason No. 1 Christopher Newport University 74-53 on Wednesday night. 

Playing at home in front of a packed crowd at S. Douglas Fleet Gymnasium, the Tigers took the lead early and didn’t look back. They were led by senior Davidson Hubbard, who posted a double-double with game highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, team captain Adam Brazil added 15 points and a game high six assists. 

Senior Alex Elliott added nine points and eight rebounds for the Tigers (1-0), who led 31-22 at halftime, and by as many as 24 points in the second half, against the visiting Captains (0-1). 

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“What a way to start the year,” said Hampden-Sydney Head Coach Caleb Kimbrough. “Big shout out to everyone who came out tonight. The students and fans were amazing! Very proud of our team’s maturity. We made a lot of mistakes, but we stayed poised and stayed together when things didn’t go our way. This was a fun win, but we won’t dwell on it. We will watch the film and figure out how to learn from it. This is a long season. We are just getting started.”

Tigers tip off season opener

Hampden-Sydney scored the first points of the season opener with an early basket from senior team captain Josiah Hardy at 18:50. CNU responded with five unanswered points to lead 5-2 at 17:24, before the Tigers used a quick 8-0 run to go ahead 10-5 with 10:58 on the first-half clock. Soon after, the Captains responded with a 9-3 run of their own to take what would prove to be the team’s final lead of the night at 14-13 with 8:36 left in the half. 

H-SC took control of the contest with a 14-2 run to begin the second half for a 45-24 advantage at 15:54 following two free throws by Brazil. Clements and Elliott sparked the outburst with five points each, including a three-pointer each, as well, while Hardy scored inside for the hosts. The Tigers maintained the comfortable margin and took their largest lead of the contest at 63-39 with 7:36 remaining. Senior DJ Wright connected on two three-pointers during this stretch, and fifth-year team captain Miles Harris also added a three-pointer. Hubbard then scored eight of nine points for the Garnet & Grey, including two slam dunks, for a 72-53 margin at 1:36. Freshman Alex Cannon added the last points with a late layup to provide for the final 21-point margin of victory.

Hampden-Sydney shot 46% (27-59) from the field, including 43% (9-21) on three-pointers, and 61% (11-18) at the free throw line. CNU, meanwhile, shot 29% (19-65) from the field, including just 13% (3-24) on three-pointers, and 71% (12-17) at the line.

Avenging last year

The Tigers avenged a 72-59 home setback to CNU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last March 4, and have now won two of the three games played between the two schools in the last 11 months, including an 85-70 road win last December 13, 2022 in Newport News.

H-SC will remain at home to welcome non-conference opponent Greensboro (NC) College on Sunday, November 12, at 4 p.m. in Fleet Gym.