Big brother — at least in this case — knew best.
Camry Green, Christopher Newport's 6-foot-1 center, found herself having a typically topsy-turvy freshman season, dominating some games and disappearing in others. That prompted a weekend heart-to-heart with her brother, Ernest Watson, 23, who averages 9.8 points per game at Division II Western Kentucky, off to a 12-0 start.
"He said, 'Just have fun. Your confidence is going to come,' " Green said. " 'Just play for Camry, and have fun.' (Before), when my shots wouldn't fall, I would beat up on myself."
Watson's advice served Green well.
Green notched her first double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench, as the Captains cruised past Averett 62-43 on Wednesday night. The victory improved CNU's record to 10-3 and 5-1 in the USA South and set up an early season showdown Saturday at Greensboro (8-2, 5-1), the preseason conference favorite.
"She has had some really good games, and she's had some unlucky games, in terms of getting in foul trouble here and there," CNU coach Jon Waters said. "That's kept her from getting the minutes that she needs to get to get to the next spot. She's really worked very, very hard in practice, especially the last week to 10 days. Extra time, extra reps. The girls have really done a lot to support her and just keep here where she needs to be. She's making progress."
Green's progress will be tested against the Pride, ranked No. 20 in the nation by d3hoops.com. Six-foot senior center Danielle Duncan averages 18.6 points per game, second-best in the league, and junior post players Jena Cabe (6-0) and Bianca Richburg (5-10) combine for 20.7 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.
"There are very few times that you put on the CNU uniform that you have a chance to truly be an underdog," said Waters, in his first year coaching a team which lost the top three scorers from last season's Division III Final Four appearance. "Greensboro's got tremendous players and tremendous experience. They're a top 20 team. We're relishing the opportunity just to go play basketball on a Saturday afternoon."
Green, now averaging 6.5 points and 5.8 boards in 14.7 minutes, will take her newfound attitude into that matchup. She's also spending more time in the gym — another recommendation of Watson's — as she works on adding to a paint repertoire that includes an improving short jumper and a free-throw shooting percentage of 74 percent.
"I think I'm doing all right. The confidence is coming," Green said. "I feel the confidence coming."
On Wednesday, CNU senior guard Lauren Gural added a season-high 12 points as the Captains built a 29-17 halftime lead and were never threatened. Averett (8-5, 4-2 USA South) shot just 29.4 percent and was outrebounded 47-35.
"There's such a great contrast between (Green) and Lauren in terms of skill set," Waters said. "The versatility gives us a chance to go either way. Lauren is great about bringing the ball up the floor and making passes and all the rest of it. I'm not ready for Camry to really break out her handles yet. We're not quite at the point.
"She's an interesting player. She's got some range on her shot, and it's good to see her just have some fun."
CNU men 77, Methodist 70
Conley Taylor's personal 7-0 run rallied Christopher Newport from a late deficit and lifted the Captains to their seventh straight victory in Wednesday night's 77-70 win against Methodist.
Methodist (3-12, 0-3 USA South), down 37-29 at halftime, opened the second half with a 19-2 run to take a 48-39 lead with 11:22 to play. CNU (11-3, 3-0) closed the gap to five on Luc Atangana's three-point play a minute later and pulled within 51-50 on Jon Snead's layup with 7:50 to play.
The Monarchs, led by Mark Jernigan's 21 points, went back up by four at 61-57 with 3:53 to go and led 63-59 with 2:49 left when Mike Cherry's 3-pointer cut the lead to one. Taylor was then fouled after snaring a defensive rebound and hit both foul shots to put the Captains up 64-63, their first lead since it was 39-37 with 14:36 left.
Taylor then converted a three-point play and hit another basket to give CNU a 69-63 edge with a minute to play.
"In the second half, I sat him down on a couple of possessions," Captains coach John Krikorian said. "I challenged him a little bit, and he responded extremely well. He got that look in his eye that we'd been waiting for. I hate that sometimes we have to wait till the second half.
"He just decided that OK, I'm going to put the team on my back, and we're going to come out of here with a win."
Seventeen of Taylor's game-high 27 points came at the free-throw line, where he was 17-for-18 and the Captains were 28-of-33 (84.8 percent).
Methodist got within 73-70 with nine seconds left when Taylor fouled Tyler Deal on a 3-point try and Deal made all three free throws, but Tra Benefield, fouled on the inbounds play, made both foul shots to push CNU's lead back to five.
CNU shot 33.8 percent for the game and was just 3-of-20 from 3-point range, contributing to its 51-37 rebounding advantage for the game.
"We thought they'd play us a lot more zone," Krikorian said. "They played us a lot more man-to-man than we thought they would. We were prepared for both. I thought we got some really good looks, especially early in the game — guys stepping into shots they can make at a decent percentage. For some reason, they just didn't make them tonight."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun