Christopher Newport was comfortable at halftime, leading Ferrum by 15.
But the Captains weren't satisfied.
Having built its big lead by shooting 53 percent in the first half largely from the perimeter - including 54.5 percent from 3-point range – CNU turned to its inside game to solidify and stretch its advantage.
Captains freshman forward Nik Biberaj scored eight of his 13 points in the first four minutes of the second half as CNU cruised to a 107-79 victory against Ferrum on Saturday. In winning their eighth straight game, the Captains (12-3, 4-0 USA South) put up their highest point total since a 108-100 double-overtime victory against Lynchburg in last year's season opener.
"Nik is extremely talented," CNU coach John Krikorian said. "He is a great kid. He's a hard worker. He's 6-7, and he's incredibly skilled for his size. He's been a little up and down as most freshmen are, but we really feel that we need him to step up here in the second half of the season and play like he's capable.
"That's why we kind of went to him there, early in the second half, to give him an opportunity to do that, and I guess he responded pretty well."
Biberaj, who also had eight rebounds, got plenty of help. All five CNU scorers reached double digits, led by freshman guard Mike Cherry's 24 points. Sophomore guard Tra Benefield had 21 points and senior guard Conley Taylor scored 13, while junior swing player Luc Atangana scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
"We just have chemistry," said Biberaj, averaging 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. "We all know how each other plays, so we just push the ball up the court, try to get a lot of open layups."
Atangana transferred to CNU last season from Divison II Charleston (W.Va.), but sat out the entire season after tearing his ACL. In the first week of preseason practice this year, he strained the meniscus in his other knee, and he's also been bothered by a thumb injury.
"He's probably 70 percent, if that, from a health standpoint," Krikorian said. "What he's giving us out there is very labored. He's struggling through some injuries. To be able to accomplish what he is, it's inspirational."
Krikorian also took heart from the first appearance of the season by 6-foot-4 freshman guard Adam Otey, who is recovering from back surgery, out of New Kent High. But the coach said 6-2 freshman guard
, a first-team all-state player at Atlantic Shores Christian in Virginia Beach, will redshirt after breaking his foot in the first game of the year.
Atangana's rebounds – 11 of them on the defensive end – helped the Captains outrebound Ferrum (9-6, 2-2) 44-33. CNU's rebounding advantage wasn't boosted by a bunch of bricks, either – the Captains shot a torrid 68.8 percent in the second half and 60.9 percent (39-of-64) for the game.
"My role is just to get boards and play defense and just amp it up on D," said Atangana, now averaging 9.9 points and 6.5 boards. "I'm pretty much the quarterback of the defense."
Ferrum two-sport star Marcus Mayo, who also quarterbacked the Panthers' football team, scored a game-high 26 points, but the Captains' unblemished conference record was never seriously threatened in the second half.
CNU, which hasn't lost since Dec. 1, next plays host to Shenandoah on Wednesday.