For Immediate Release – 2/27/16 - #223
WildCats Set Up Hill City Championship Game with Semifinal Upset
SALEM, VA – The sixth-seeded Randolph College men's basketball team upset second-seeded Virginia Wesleyan College 69-61 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Semifinal matchup on Saturday night. The win sets up an all-Hill City championship game, as top-seeded Lynchburg College will be the WildCats opponent in the title game on Sunday at the Salem Civic Center.
The 'Cats had a tremendous first half to get things going for them. Josh Freund led the team with 16 in the first half, as him and the rest of the squad shot 60.7% from the field.
While Tim Jones hit a three to start it off for VWC, Freund quickly answered with two close jumpers. Then following a Zach Desgain steal, Corey Brown continued his hot shooting this tournament with a big three. After a few quiet minutes, Freund hit another shot off of a pass from Desgain. The same scenario happened again at the 15:04 mark, putting Randolph up 11-3.
Virginia Wesleyan hit two threes following it, but Nick Goble split the pair with a jumper of his own. After that Marlin spurt, the seniors took over for Randolph. Desgain and Jason Eddie went back to back, with Eddie's from long range.
Khory Moore hit a three for the two-seed, but the roommates, Freund and Rhyle Scott, combined for six straight, putting the lead at nine. The Marlins hit another three, but Desgain and fellow senior Brown answered. Desgain hit a jumper, before Brown knocked down two threes to go up 32-18 with under six minutes remaining.
Freund and Desgain then helped push the lead to 17 with 2:59 remaining. Freund had one more tip-in over the final minutes, but the Marlins scored eight of the final 10 to end the half, including a last-second three. However, Randolph still maintained a double-digit lead of 40-29 at the half. The 'Cats held VWC to only 30.3% (10-33) from the field.
The second half proved to be more of a struggle to score, but as always the defense was there to hold down another high scoring team. Randolph scored nine points in the first seven minutes, with seven of them coming from the line. However, the defense was there to hold the higher seed to only 12 points during that stretch, with all either coming from behind the arc or as a traditional three-point play.
But with the lead at eight, Ryan Fields slammed home an emphatic dunk that got the juices going. Following a WildCat timeout, Eddie knocked down a three to put Randolph back up 13. However, the Marlins would not go away, and went on a very quick 9-1 run to cut the deficit. The two sides began to trade baskets, as Randolph held a 60-54 lead with 4:54 left.
The 'Cats kept their composure and knocked down big shot after big shot. First it was Scott with a left-sided jumper. Then it was Brown answering a Marlin bucket. Finally Desgain finished a tough layup with 1:22 left to put Randolph up five. He made two free throws and Freund added one in the final minute to seal the victory.
"This is what we have been working, fighting, and sweating for," said Eddie after the game. "We will bring our best, [LC] will bring their best, and may the best team win."
Freund posted another tournament double-double with 20 points and 12 boards. Brown also pulled down a double-double, scoring 16, while grabbing 11 rebounds (all defensive). Desgain had his typical solid night, having 11 points and six assists. The team finished shooting with a 53.2% from the floor.
Tim Jones had a game-high 24 for the Marlins (18-9 overall).
Randolph (17-11), as stated earlier, will continue its season in the ODAC Title Game on Sunday. The WildCats will play Lynchburg for the Championship. The first tip-off will be at 3:30 p.m. at the Salem Civic Center.