For Immediate Release – 2/28/16 - #226
WildCats Lose Heartbreaker in ODAC Championship Overtime Contest
SALEM, VA – The Randolph College men's basketball team had a shot to win at the buzzer, but it just missed, as the top-seeded Lynchburg Hornets won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Championship in overtime, 62-60 on Sunday.
The WildCats did not have the same percentage shooting in the first half as the team did on Saturday night, but the defense played as stoutly as always. Lynchburg jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but the Hornets had to work for every point. Corey Brown finished a tough layup to put Randolph on the board, but Alex Graves answered down the other end on the following possession.
Both teams went several minutes without scoring, but following that time, it was the 'Cats turn to go on their run. Jason Eddie made a layup, before Ryan Fields and Josh Freund finished tough shots around the basket to cut the deficit to four.
Following another quick burst by the Hornets, Freund and Zach Desgain responded with two apiece, bringing the WildCats within six. LC then scored 10 of the next 14, extending the advantage to 12. But the 'Cats would not go quietly. Randolph ended the period with six straight, four by Freund and the other two by Brown. The low scoring half, ended with the top-seeded Hornets leading 27-21. However, the WildCats took two charges and their defense was definitely causing a problem.
The second half saw the teams improve their shooting percentages and their scoring improved as well. Both sides traded baskets to start the half, as Rhyle Scott scored to keep the deficit at seven with 17:56 left. Freund scored following him, but Graves answered one more time. Desgain hit a big three to cut the lead to four, but Omar Kemp converted a traditional three-point play to keep it at seven.
However, the sixth-seed continued to fight and responded with a seven-point run. Nick Goblemade two strong moves down low and Brown hit a deep three during the run. Scott made it a 9-0 run, when he followed Goble's tying basket with a great move of his own.
The top-seed followed it with a run of their own, as the Hornets turned a two-point deficit into 44-39 lead. The teams then went back and forth, but Eddie copied Fields, making shots from deep, and took the lead back at 47-46. The scoring then went back and forth for the next several minutes, with the lead changing hands four times.
Eddie sunk a three after Brown hit his own to put Randolph up five with 1:15 remaining in regulation. Austen Arnold responded with an and-one to keep the Hornets within distance. Burnett then hit two free throws with four seconds remaining to tie the game at 56.
Freund started the overtime with a jumper to take a 58-56 lead for Randolph. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Graves responded on the other end to tie the game. Burnett and Freund then traded free throws, as the game remained tied with 2:16 left. Graves then hit a free throw with two minutes left to take a lead.
Both teams missed shots, as the defenses picked up and the refs allowed more physical play. Burnett hit one of two free throws with 8.5 on the clock in the extra session. The sixth-seeded 'Cats stormed up the court and had a good look at a game-winning three, but it hit the front rim, giving the Hornets the title.
"We gave a championship effort and showed championship heart today," said head coach Clay Nunley after the game. "I love my guys."
Freund and Brown finished the game with identical stat-lines of game-high 14 points and team-high seven rebounds. Burnett scored 13 points and Arnold added 10 for the Hornets (22-6 overall), who will now advance to the National Tournament. LC will find out their destination on Monday.
Brown and Desgain were both named to the All-Tournament Team. Arnold and Burnett joined Graves in the team as well.
Randolph ends its season with 17 wins and 12 losses, its highest win total since the 2012-2013 season. The team will see its seniors Brown, Desgain, Eddie, Evan Horn, Lucas Smith, and Seth Wimbish graduate, but the community thanks them for everything they did.