Strong second half sends No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan past Guilford

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VIRGINIA BEACH -- Pressuring defense had its rewards for the No. 1 ranked Virginia Wesleyan College men's basketball team on Saturday.

After junior All-American DJ Woodmore nailed a three-pointer off an assist from Chris Teasley to give Virginia Wesleyan a 31-28 lead over Guilford College, the host Marlins applied full court pressure that knocked the visiting Quakers out of sync.  

In the next four minutes the host Marlins out-scored Guilford 10-0 to open up a 41-28 lead that catapulted undefeated Virginia Wesleyan to a 63-49 Old Dominion Athletic Conference victory at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

Senior Tre' Ford (Falls Church/J.E.B. Stuart) and sophomore Cameron Owens (Centreville/Centreville) both hit big triples in the game-opening run, which was led by sophomore Greg Montgomery (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Princess Anne) with four points.

Guilford (5-2, 2-1), which missed four shots and turned the ball over three times during the run by Virginia Wesleyan (7-0, 3-0), stopped the surge when Jake Hopkins (Kernersville, N.C./East Forsyth) scored off an assist from Matt McCarthy (Rockville, Md./Good Counsel).  Zeb Richardson (West Jefferson, N.C./Ashe County) and Kevin Gibbs (Raleigh, N.C./Roosevelt (N.Y.) helped the Quakers cut the spread to seven points, but that's where it ended.

Virginia Wesleyan responded with a 9-0 run to push its lead to 50-34 with seven minutes remaining to be played.  Senior Chris Teasley (Newport News/Menchville) and Woodmore (Virginia Beach/Landstown) both nailed big triples to key the run, before another triple from senior Chris Teasley (Suffolk/Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate) helped keep the spread at 16 points for the Marlins.

Guilford never got closer that 12 points in the final six minutes, while VWC pushed out to its largest lead of the game at 63-45 on an Astorga jumper off a Woodmore assist with 2:52 on the clock.

Guilford, coached by VWC graduate Tom Palombo, had a four-game winning streak against the Marlins snapped.  The Quakers started well Saturday, opening up a 7-2 lead in the early going, before Virginia Wesleyan settled and produced an 11-4 run to take a 13-9 lead.  There were three ties and five lead changes after that, before Guilford took a 24-23 lead at halftime.

A Woodmore dunk off a feed from Astorga gave Virginia Wesleyan a 27-26 lead in the second half and the Marlins never trailed after that.  Guilford tied the score at 28 on a Richardson shot, but Woodmore's triple and the Marlins' defensive pressure followed, sparking VWC to the win.

Virginia Wesleyan had four players in double-figure scoring, led by Ford with a season-high 18 points.  He hit 6-of-9 shots from the field, including a pair of triples.  Astorga added 13 points, followed by Teasley with 12 and Woodmore with 10.  Woodmore led the Marlins with six rebounds, five assists, and four steals.  Junior Trent Batson (Lewes, Del./Cape Henlopen) also pulled down six rebounds and recorded three blocks.

Virginia Wesleyan hit nine triples in the game, led by Teasley with three.  Guilford hit only two, both by McCarthy. 

Richardson finished with 16 points to lead the Quakers.  He also pulled down nine rebounds, as did Hopkins, who finished with 10 points.  Guilford finished with 23 turnovers, while Virginia Wesleyan committed only 13.

Virginia Wesleyan returns to action on Monday, December 17, in non-conference competition, hosting the Sea Gulls of Salisbury University at 8 p.m.