Hughes’ career day powers W&L to crucial ODAC road win

Erin Hughes

NORFOLK, Va. – Sophomore guard Erin Hughes (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft School) turned in a career-high 28 points to lead the Washington and Lee women's basketball team to a key 86-76 win over Virginia Wesleyan on the road on Saturday afternoon.

The Generals (10-6, 6-3 ODAC) exploded out of the gates with a 11-0 run to begin the game, with the first five points coming via a driving layup and a three pointer on the first two possessions from Hughes. After a made Virginia Wesleyan (9-7, 6-3 ODAC) triple, the Generals scored six more points in a row to run their lead to 14 points with 4:45 left in the opening frame.

The Marlins found a groove late, scoring six of eight points to get back to within 10 points, but W&L outscored Virginia Wesleyan, 8-6, over the remaining 2:08 to go into the second with a 27-15 lead.

Virginia Wesleyan kept the pressure on to start the second, scoring the first six points of the quarter to start an overall 16-4 run to even the score with just over three minutes left in the half.

After a free throw at 1:43 gave the Marlins their first lead of the game, 32-31, W&L first-year guard Megan Horn (Basking Ridge, N.J./The Pingry School) nailed a three from the top of the key, followed by another triple from junior guard Taylor Casey (Brentwood, Tenn./Franklin Road Academy) to put the Generals back up by four points. Hughes then went to the line with 4.1 remaining and sank a free throw to give W&L a 38-33 lead heading into halftime.

Both teams opened the third with a bucket on their opening possessions before the Generals scored the next 12 points to build their lead up to 52-35 midway through the period. The run was powered by Casey who scored seven points during the stretch. The Marlins responded with a quick 7-2 run, before a three pointer went down for W&L first-year guard Erin Addison (Waxhaw, N.C./Weddington) with 4:14 left.

Addison's three-ball sparked another W&L run, this time a 9-0 mark over a 2:17 span, to run the lead to 21 points with under two minutes in the quarter. The Marlins closed the period on an 8-2 run, however, all on made free throws, as the Generals went into the final quarter with a 65-50 lead.

The offense slowed for both sides as the Marlins held a slight 6-4 edge over the Generals through the first 5:03 of the final quarter. Virginia Wesleyan picked up its scoring efforts in the final five minutes of the game, but the Generals did not allow any extensive runs, as the Marlins came as close as within eight points of W&L before the final buzzer sounded.

Hughes' 28 points came on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, but she did most of her damage at the free throw line, converting 13-of-15 attempts, including 9-of-10 in the fourth, in recording her first career 20-point performance. Hughes added six steals to her line, second most in a game in her career (8). Casey scored efficiently in the game, needing only seven shot attempts to tally 20 points. She connected on 2-of-4 shots from beyond the arc and made 10-of-11 from the charity stripe to notch her fourth 20-point game of the season.

Junior forward Andy Smithey (Charlotte, N.C./Saint Mary's School) also turned in a strong game, securing the first double-double of her career with 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. She made six of her 10 shots in the game, while her 11 rebounds marked her first game with at least 10 in a contest.

The Marlins were led by senior guard Jayla Harris, who scored 26 points on 11-of-23 shooting, plus four assists. Junior guard Reagan Holmes chipped in 17 points, while sophomore forward Sabrina Jones and senior guard Amanda Germi notched double digits with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

For the game, the Generals shot 46.9 percent (23-for-49) from the floor and held the Marlins to just 36.1 percent (26-for-72) shooting, including 27.6 percent (8-for-29) from three-point land. W&L made 35-of-47 free throw attempts in the contest, the most attempts in a game in program history and the most makes since sinking a program-record 36 against Marietta on November 11, 1997.

W&L held the rebounding edge, 43-40, while Virginia Wesleyan held advantages in points off turnovers (29-18), second-chance points (14-10) and points in the paint (18-16).

The Generals will return home on Wednesday for a 5:00 pm tip-off against Bridgewater.

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