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Rockland’s Crawford earning her points for Regis women’s basketball

Stephanie Crawford (left) has started every game since her freshman season, totaling 92 entering Tuesday’s game. Stephanie Crawford (left) has started every game since her freshman season, totaling 92 entering Tuesday’s game.
By John R. Johnson
January 12, 2012
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Crawford’s toughness an inspiration at Regis

Stephanie Crawford dragged herself to have X-rays taken on her sore left wrist last Friday. Regardless of the test results, the senior was determined to play Saturday when the Regis women’s basketball team hosted Lesley in a New England Collegiate Conference matchup.

Regis coach Julie Plant will never question the toughness of her 5-foot-4 senior guard from Rockland, who hurt her wrist during the team’s trip to California over winter break. Her wrist was only bruised, so she played 13 minutes in the Pride’s 77-26 win.

Crawford has started every game since her freshman season, a streak that stood at 92 entering Tuesday’s game at Daniel Webster. Her consecutive-games streak lives on, as will her team’s drive for a berth in the NCAA Division 3 tournament.

She is the Pride’s spark plug on offense and defense.

“She means so much to our team and is such a tough competitor,’’ said Plant. “She’s our go-to player on offense and is an outstanding penetrator. Even as a point guard, we look for her to score. She controls the tempo of the game and is also our defensive stopper. We match her up with the other team’s top scorer and she’s done a much better job defending this year.’’

Crawford is averaging 12.8 points, 2.4 assists, and two steals per game for the Pride (6-3). Her aggressive drives to the hoop have landed her at the free-throw line 55 times, and she is converting a NECC-best 84-percent of her attempts.

Crawford, who fell 60 points shy of reaching 1,000 career points at Rockland High, reached the grand total at Regis in a 77-57 victory against Daniel Webster. After a tough zone defense took away her passing lanes in that game, she opted for Plan B, a jumper from the top of the key that allowed her to become the 12th female player at Regis to pass the milestone.

Her signature move is driving the lane, but she scored on a jumper, a facet of her game that she has concentrated on more this season.

“I knew that I was close to the 1,000 points at the beginning of the year and that it was bound to happen,’’ said Crawford, a nursing major who hopes to work in pediatric nursing.

“It’ll be nice to look back and know that I accomplished it. It was kind of a relief to put it behind me. Everyone was talking about it before the game. It took me forever [12 minutes] to score so I was relieved to move on and just focus on the rest of the season and not have it be an individual thing.’’

Crawford (1,040 career points) could finish as high as third on the program’s scoring list, but of more importance to her is that she helped the Pride secure its first NCAA tournament bid since 1995 (Regis qualified for the ECAC tourney last season).

“We’ve been so fortunate the last four years,’’ said Plant.

“What she has accomplished academically and athletically while in the nursing program shows her true character.’’

UNH’s Evans wins football honors

After leading the country in solo tackles (7.6 per game), New Hampshire junior linebacker Matt Evans earned the Buck Buchanan Award as the national defensive player of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly Division 1-AA.

“It’s a huge honor to be a part of that prestigious group,’’ said Evans. “I just try, and want to be, the best player I can be. If I play well and get those honors, that is just added incentive. Obviously, it means more to me for the team to have a better season.’’

The 6-foot, 227-pound Evans (from Thayer Academy) registered 165 total tackles, the second-most in the country and the second-highest single-season total at UNH. He posted a career-high 24 stops against Lehigh and had 13 tackles and two forced fumbles against UMass. With 334 career tackles, Evans is fifth in UNH history and will enter his senior season just 100 tackles shy of the career mark.

“Matt is one of those kids who is a very instinctive football player,’’ UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “He’s not a huge linebacker: He weighs about 215, 220 pounds soaking wet. He’s got great speed, he’s got great athleticism, and he tackles very well. But the thing that Matty does is he understands how people are attacking. He also knows how to get there, and gets around blocks.’’

Coach’s good start

Former Westwood High point guard Matt LeVangie won his college coaching debut on the Wheelock men’s basketball bench Saturday in a 54-52 win over host Newbury. An assistant for 10 years - the last three at Stonehill - LeVangie was named coach last week, and held his first practice session Thursday night. A special-education teacher in Framingham, LeVangie played in high school for his father, John, currently the girls’ coach at Cohasset.

Sharry on fire

It’s been quite a start to the new year for Braintree’s Ryan Sharry for Middlebury College’s men’s basketball team. The 6-foot-8 senior forward netted a career-high 41 points in a 123-111 victory over RPI on Jan. 3, converting 19 of 23 field goals while adding nine rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. Sharry followed up with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting (and 10 rebounds) in a 79-57 win over Bates and added 22 points in Saturday’s 82-69 win over Tufts for the Panthers (12-0), ranked No. 1 in Division 3. He missed the first five games with injury.

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