SALEM, Va. – Junior Jayla Wade (Newport News, Va. / Heritage) made a baseline drive to break a 68-68 tie with 24 seconds remaining in the game to propel Randolph-Macon to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship in Salem, Va. on Sunday afternoon. It is R-MC's ninth ODAC Tournament Championship and first since 2014. It also avenged an earlier loss to the Wasps 84-77 on February 3 in Crenshaw Gym.
Wade opened the scoring at 9:24 with a bucket. She pushed R-MC out again minutes later, as with 6:28 to go, she helped the Yellow Jackets hit a six point lead at 10-4. After an E&H bucket, sophomore Charlotte Woods(Richmond, Va. / Trinity) helped maintain the six point advantage with a bucket at 5:23 and sophomore Kelly Williams (Garysburg, N.C./Halifax Academy) did the same with 4:44 to go in the first. Wade made the lead eight for R-MC, as with 4:24 to go, she hit a jumper from the right wing to push R-MC up 17-9. The Yellow Jackets continued the rapid pace as senior Teal Reynolds (Sterling, Va. / Potomac Falls) hit a layup on a pass from Williams to give R-MC a ten point lead with 2:53 to go in the period and forcing an E&H timeout. Woods made it a 12 point lead to complete the 6-0 run for the Yellow Jackets before the Wasps would manage another bucket. That bucket began an answering 7-0 run for E&H that cut the R-MC lead to just five with :53 to go in the quarter. Each team added a bucket in the last 30 seconds, but R-MC maintained its lead heading into the second frame 25-20.
Turnovers plagued R-MC to begin the second quarter and it opened the door for the Wasps. Four Yellow Jacket turnovers led to six E&H points, giving the Wasps the lead 28-27 and forcing an R-MC timeout with 6:43 to go in the period. Over the first four minutes of the quarter, only Wade collected an R-MC bucket. Williams regained the Yellow Jackets' lead as with 5:52, she converted a pair of free throw opportunities. The teams traded buckets until 2:20 to go when E&H began a 6-0 run that gave the Wasps the lead. They held it for about a minute until freshman Elise Knobloch (Glenville, Pa. / Delone Catholic) converted a three-pointer with :31 to go to give R-MC the lead heading into halftime, 39-38.
After E&H opened the second half with a bucket, Randolph-Macon used a pair of scores by Williams to go back up by three 43-40. E&H answered with a pair of baskets, putting them up by one with 6:30 to go. The buckets were the beginning of an 8-1 E&H run leading to the media timeout at 4:41 and giving the Wasps a four point lead 48-44. Williams broke the run with a pair of free throws and made a critical block on the defensive end to give R-MC the offensive opportunity – which the Yellow Jackets converted by way of a layup by Williams with 3:54 to go, tying the game again at 48. After trading buckets, a pair of R-MC turnovers led to four E&H points and a Wasp 54-51 lead. Williams got two free throw opportunities with 1:07 to go, which she converted to bring the score back within one. Junior Kelsey Wisner (York, Pa. / Central York) hit a three-pointer to give R-MC the lead for a moment before E&H tied the game again, this time at 56. Both teams closed the quarter with points – R-MC with a free throw and E&H with a layup – sending the game to the fourth quarter with the Wasps in the lead 58-57.
The points came slowly to begin the fourth quarter. Over the first four minutes of play, both teams scored less than five point each. Reynolds tied the game after stealing the ball away from the Wasps' Kara Stafford and Reynolds converted the fast break to tie the game at 62 with 5:16 remaining. Williams broke the tie as she hit a layup with 4:17 remaining and Reynolds continued the run with a bucket to push the lead up to four with 3:34 to go. Knobloch added a pair of free throws to make the run 6-0 and the R-MC lead six points with 2:56 to go. R-MC's defense kept the Wasps off the board for nearly six minutes of play. E&H did not get points until a pair of free throws by Chloe Harris with 1:44 to go, cutting R-MC's lead to four. Following the free throws, E&H got another bucket from Sydney McKinney, cutting R-MC's lead to just two with 1:06 left. Seconds later, E&H converted two foul shots to tie the game at 68 with :52 remaining. Coming out of a timeout, both teams turned the ball over with Randolph-Macon ending up with the ball and taking another timeout. Out of the second timeout, Wade drove the baseline to make a layup under the basket giving R-MC the two point advantage, 70-68 with :24 to play. E&H took a series of three shots with under :15 to play, but could not convert any of them and turned the ball over. Wade was fouled and closed out the game with a pair of free throws for the 72-68 victory.
Williams finished with 31 points and 20 rebounds. She also made two assists and two blocks. Wade was also in double figures, scoring 13 points and making two steals. Reynolds finished with nine points and five rebounds while also making two steals. Woods and Knobloch each had eight points, with Woods adding 13 rebounds on the afternoon. Wisner had the lone three-pointer along with four rebounds, four assists and a steal. Freshman Becca Arrington contributed two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Williams, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player in addition to being the conferences' Player of the Year, scored more points than any other player in the conference tournament with 79 over three games. The previous record holder was Megan Silva in 2006. Her 60 rebounds also sets a new conference record, displacing the 44 rebounded by Nicci Moats for Roanoke in 2011.
Reynolds and Woods were both named to the All-Tournament team for their work over the three games. They each scored 28 points throughout the three games. Reynolds added eight assists, five steals and 13 rebounds. Woods tallied 39 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Wade was also a big piece of the tournament for R-MC, scoring 32 points over the three-game span.
Randolph-Macon now awaits for the NCAA Selection Show to find out the location of its regional matchup. The selection show will air tomorrow at 2:30 PM on NCAA.com