LYNCHBURG, VA - Up only 57-53 with 7:16 remaining, the Tigers exploded for a 20-4 run to close out Randolph College on the road. Hampden-Sydney moves to 16-2 overall and 8-1 in the ODAC while Randolph, receiving votes in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, drops to 15-3 and 6-3 in league play. The Tigers sit alone in second place, one game behind Virginia Wesleyan and two games ahead of Lynchburg, Randolph, and Guilford.
Randolph started out the game exactly as they wanted, forcing two Hampden-Sydney turnovers and limiting the Tigers to jumpers instead of shots in the paint while also scoring the first six points in three minutes. Fletcher Lumpkin (Richmond, VA / Mills Godwin) and Keegan Wetzel (Mebane, NC / Eastern Alamance) posted back-to-back jump shots to make it a 6-4 game, but Corey Brown answered with a "J" of his own to give Randolph a four-point advantage with 15 minutes left in the half.
Following a DJ Langley free throw to push the lead out to 9-4, the Tigers offense woke up. Harrison George (Raleigh, NC / Leesville Road) scored his first bucket of the game, but Jason Eddie responded with a three-pointer. Mike Murray (Norfolk, VA / Norfolk Christian) drained two straight trifectas to tie the game at 12-12 with 12:20 remaining. Alex Conwell scored a layup on the WildCats next possession to put the hosts ahead by two, but the Tigers went on a 10-0 run, finished by six straight Khobi Williamson (Norfolk, VA / Maury) points as H-SC raced ahead 22-14 with 7:55 remaining before halftime.
Chris Battaglia ended the run with a layup, but Williamson continued to tear through the Randolph defense scoring four more points for his own personal 10-0 run. Greg Lewis (Mechanicsville, VA / Hanover) followed with a traditional three-point play to give Hampden-Sydney a 29-16 lead at the 5:30 mark. Colton Hunt took over for Randolph down the stretch by getting to the free throw line several times. Hunt made two of his first 10 attempts in the final five minutes and Mike Ehilegbu scored a layup to trim the Tiger advantage down to single digits, but Wetzel quelled any momentum with a shot from deep range to put the Tigers back ahead 32-20 with 4:36 left.
Following another Hunt free throw, Murray scored the next five points to push the advantage out to 16 points, 37-21, but Hunt scored six of the game's next eight points at the foul line to keep it a 12-point game with 25 seconds left. George made a difficult shot from about 15 feet out on the baseline at the buzzer to put Hampden-Sydney ahead 41-27 going in to intermission.
Randolph opened up the second half strong again as Chris Battaglia and Hunt scored on consecutive layups, but a Williamson three-point play kept the Tigers ahead by 13, 44-31, with 16:16 remaining. The WildCats then cut the deficit down to nine points, 46-37, less than two minutes later. The lead continued to hover around 10 points, and Randolph trailed 55-44 following a Sasha Obradovic (Belgrade, Serbia / Hawaii Prep) three pointer at 10:35, but Randolph clawed back in to the game after that.
Colton Hunt answered the three with a layup but missed a free throw after being fouled. After forcing a Tigers miss, he came down and scored on a layup to get Randolph down just seven, 55-48, with 9:28 left. Brown made one of two free throws, but a Williamson jump shot helped keep Randolph at bay to push H-SC back up eight, 57-49, with 8:12 to go. Hunt then drained a jump shot on the next possession, stole the ball, and fed Ehilegbu for a layup to make it just a 57-53 game at 7:16 and forcing a Tigers timeout.
Following the timeout, Preseason All-American George took over. He converted a layup coming out of the timeout, drilled a jumper on the next trip down, and then scored his sixth straight point on another layup, putting Hampden-Sydney back ahead by 10, 63-53, less than two minutes following the timeout. A minute later, Hunt finished off another three-point play to get the game back down to single digits. Lewis replied with a jumper, and it was an eight-point affair following a DJ Langley free throw with 3:57 remaining. Hampden-Sydney then reeled off the next 12 points, putting the Tigers ahead by 20 points just six minutes after being ahead just four points and with Randolph having all the momentum. Hunt closed out the game scoring six of the final eight points to provide the final score of 79-63.
Williamson posted a team-high 22 points and a game-best 12 rebounds. He shot 9-14 from the floor and 4-6 from the foul line. George posted his second double-double in the last three games, scoring 20 points while collecting 10 boards. He went 9-11 overall and 2-4 from the charity stripe along with three assists and two blocks. Murray contributed 15 points, 13 in the first half, with four rebounds and three steals. Lewis added eight points and five caroms while Wetzel tacked on five points, five rebounds, and four helpers.
Hunt had a game-high 33 points and a team-best nine rebounds. He shot just 9-21 overall and 1-7 from three range but made up for his shooting struggles with a 14-16 performance from the foul line. Battaglia contributed 12 points and fouled out in 25 minutes.
The Tigers shot 51.6% (32-62) for the game, 26.3% (5-19) from three, and 58.8% (10-17) from the free throw line. Randolph was limited to a 40.7% (22-54) output and made just two three pointers to go 10.5% (2-19) along with a 73.9% (17-23) performance from the charity stripe. Hampden-Sydney dominated the glass, holding a 43-23 advantage. H-SC corralled 13 offensive rebounds while the WildCats mustered just 18 defensive boards. Each team took care of the ball as the Tigers had just 11 turnovers compared to six for the WildCats. The Hampden-Sydney bench was decisively more productive than the Randolph reserves, holding a 42-9 advantage in bench points.
Hampden-Sydney will host Guilford College on Saturday in another critical ODAC clash at 2 pm in Fleet Gymnasium.