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Local Division III Teams Enter New Year in Top 25

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As the New Year approaches, both Christopher Newport and Virginia Wesleyan men’s basketball teams have had solid starts to their 2013-14 basketball seasons.

Christopher Newport is currently 9-1 and was ranked 18th in the last published D3hoops.com men’s Top 25 poll. The poll was published on December 15 and at the time Christopher Newport boasted a 7-1 record. The Captains have since beat Salisbury University (56-47, December 18th) and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (76-70, December 30th).

The Captains are led by senior guard Tra Benefield, who leads the team in points (20.0 per game) and rebounds (7.8 per game). Junior guard Mike Cherry is second on the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and sophomore guard Evan Thorpe is third at 10.5 points per game. The Captains are among the nation’s leaders in rebound margin (tied for 39 nationally) and will enter 2014 with a six-game win streak.

Virginia Wesleyan will enter 2014 with an 8-2 record and was also ranked 10th in the last published D3hoops.com men’s Top 25 poll (December 15). At the time, Virginia Wesleyan was 7-1 and have since suffered a double overtime loss to Mary Washington (95-87, December 17) and bounced back with a victory over Ferrum (105-64, December 19).

The Marlins are lead by senior guard DJ Woodmore who is having a tremendous senior season. Woodmore leads the team in scoring (24.1 points per game) and is shooting a torrid 54.9 percent from the field and 51.2 percent from three-point range. Woodmore is among the nation’s leaders in both points per game and three-point percentage. Senior forward Colby Head is the Marlins’ only other double-figure scorer at 10.8 points per game. He is also among the national leaders in field goal percentage (65.7 percent).

As a team, Virginia Wesleyan also ranks nationally in a number of categories including points per game (88.0), 3pt field goals made per game (10.3), assists per game (17.7), scoring margin (17.6), and 3pt field goal defense (25.9%).

In terms of local bragging rights, Christopher Newport will hold those for this year after defeating Virginia Wesleyan 83-80 on the road in an overtime thriller on December 15th. Tra Benefield led CNU with 30 points in the victory, while DJ Woodmore led Virginia Wesleyan with 25 points.

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