SALEM, VA – The #1 seeded Virginia Wesleyan College Marlins came back from a nine-point deficit with four minutes left to defeat fourth seeded Hampden-Sydney 67-65 in the ODAC Tournament Semi-Finals.
The first-half was back and forth for the full 20 minutes as they were 11 ties and nine lead changes as neither team could manage to build a lead larger than five points. The game went in to intermission knotted at 34. H-SC shot 44% for the half but left seven points at the free throw line by shooting 10-17. The Tigers also turned over the rock 13 times. The defense was stout as they limited the Marlins to 32% shooting.
H-SC opened the second-half strong as Ru White (Chesterfield, VA/Allegany) scored a layup on the opening possession. The Marlins turned over the ball on their first possession and had two missed jumpers. Khobi Williamson (Virginia Beach, VA/Maury) threw down a two-handed dunk off an underneath out of bounds play to put H-SC ahead 38-34 at the 17:54 mark. The lead remained at four points at 15:17, but a Chris Teasley three-point play narrowed the gap to one less than a minute later. H-SC scored the next four points off a Sasha Obradovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Hawaii Prep) layup and two free throws from Ben Jessee (Midlothian, VA/Raleigh). Chris Astorga scored the next three points with a free throw and a jumper to make it a 48-46 Tiger advantage with 11 minutes left.
H-SC answered with an 8-0 run capped off by a Williamson dunk to put Hampden-Sydney ahead by 10 points, 56-46, with 8:17 remaining. Chris Teasley scored four of the next five points as Virginia Weslehan trimmed the lead down to 56-51. Up six with 4:54 left, Hampden-Sydney had to inbound the ball with only four seconds left on the shot clock. Jessee drained a fading three pointer as the shot clock expired, the Tigers only three of the contest, to put H-SC ahead 61-52.
Astorga made two free throws and Harrison George (Raleigh, NC/Leesville) converted a jumper to keep it a nine-point game at the 4:05 mark. Astorga then took over the game. He converted a layup and the free throw after a foul to trim the lead down to just six. Donald Vaughn blocked a White layup at 2:50, which led to a transition layup for Astorga. Following a missed Hampden-Sydney layup, Astorga drained a three-pointer from the left corner to make it just a 63-62 game with 2:12 left in the contest.
Following another Vaughn block, Hampden-Sydney secured a defensive stop off a Williamson block, but the outlet pass was thrown into the back of Obradovic and Chris Teasley secured the loose ball. The turnover led to a long two-point jumper for DJ Woodmore to give the Marlins their first lead since the first half. The Tigers missed a jumper on their next possession, and Teasle connected on a layup to put the Marlins ahead by three, 66-63, with 52 seconds to go. George answered with a layup 14 seconds later.
The Tigers looked to have forced Virginia Wesleyan into a shot clock violation, but a questionable foul was called and Vaughn was sent to the charity stripe for two shots as he made one of two with 4.4 ticks left on the clock. DJ Woodmore committed a foul just inside half court with 2.2 seconds left as they had one foul to give before going in to the bonus. Jessee made the inbound pass and then received the ball as he attempted a three pointer at the buzzer that hit off the top front of the rim and out to end the game.
George had team highs of 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. He shot 7-15 from the floor but was just 3-9 from the free throw line. Williamson posted 14 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks while White had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Astorga had a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds but shot just 6-19 from the floor and 5-7 from the free throw line. Tre Ford added 15 points, all in the first half, while Teasley had 14 points but was limited to 5-14 shooting. Woodmore scored 10 points on 3-11 shooting while Vaughn had eight points, eight rebounds, four blocks, and five turnovers while shooting 1-5 from the floor and 6-10 from the charity stripe.
H-SC shot 26-59 (44.1%) for the contest and limited VWC to 20-61 (32.8%) shooting. Each team struggled from behind the arc as Hampden-Sydney went 1-13 and Virginia Wesleyan was 4-18. A massive disparity at the free throw line proved to be a major difference maker. The Tigers made 12 of their 20 attempts, but the Marlins were 33-23. In the second half, 13 fouls were called on H-SC compared to just six on VWC, leading to the Marlins shooting 14-22 from the foul line after intermission while Hampden-Sydney only had three attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Turnovers also played a huge factor as H-SC had 20 compared to just nine for VWC, which led to the Marlins earning a 18-7 advantage in points off turnovers. H-SC controlled the paint with a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint. Virginia Wesleyan's bench recorded zero points on the evening while H-SC's contributed 14.
Hampden-Sydney concludes their season with a 19-8 overall and an 11-5 mark in ODAC play.