VWC Men's Basketball Team advances to national tournament
vwcathletics.com | March 2, 2014
One key word defined Virginia Wesleyan College's effort in a thrilling 77-74 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship victory over the Hampden-Sydney College Tigers Sunday at the Salem Civic Center: balance.
Balance all over the court, ranging three-point shooting, free throw production, and scoring, to consistent defensive play that helped to slow down a steam-rolling Tiger offense. H-SC entered the game averaging 92 points per game through three tournament victories, including a stunning 68-55 decision over top-seeded Randolph-Macon College.
Virginia Wesleyan (22-6), which has competed in three straight ODAC championship games and eight in 11 seasons, won the league's title for the second time in three years and fifth time overall. The Marlins also earned the program's 10th straight NCAA tournament bid and 14th overall. Pairing for the title event will be announced Monday.
For now, however, the Marlins will celebrate their win, which started to take shape in the first half when the Virginia Wesleyan defense set the tone early. VWC limited the Tigers (16-13) to just 34 points at halftime, keeping standout Khobi Williamson (Norfolk/Maury) and outside scoring threat Sasha Obradovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Hawaii Prep) to a combined total of seven points.
Except for one five-minute stretch late in the first half when H-SC jumped in front by five points, the Marlins produced timely field goals, free throws, and rebounds to maintain the lead. In fact, that Tiger lead was wiped out by an impressive first-half finish by the Marlins, led by junior Cameron Owens (Centreville/Centreville) with four points, senior Colby Heard (Virginia Beach/Tallwood) with a dunk, and senior Aaron Clark (Virginia Beach/Tallwood) with a triple that all combined to give VWC a 36-34 lead at the break.
Mike Murray (Norfolk/Norfolk Christian) scored on a layup to give H-SC a 38-36 advantage early in the second half, but the Tigers would never lead again. ODAC Rookie of the Year Khory Moore (Arlington/Wakefield) drilled through a triple seconds later to return the advantage to Virginia Wesleyan.
Virginia Wesleyan pushed out to a six-point advantage several times in the ensuing minutes, the last at 62-56 with 6:31 remaining in the game on a Moore layup. But, the Tigers battled back to tie the game three times in the next three minutes. A pair of Murray free throws created a 68-68 game with 3:27 on the clock.
Scoring efforts by senior D.J. Woodmore (Virginia Beach/Landstown), the tournament's Most Valuable Player, and Moore drew fouls and the Marlin duo was 4-for-4, helping VWC to a 72-68 lead and an advanted the Marlins held to the final buzzer.
Hampden-Sydney closed within a point with 57 seconds remaining and again with three seconds on the clock, but Virginia Wesleyan responded with points to knock the Tigers back each time.
Moore hit 6-of-11 field goals, including a game-high 4-of-9 triples, to lead VWC scoring with 21 points. Clark connected on two triples and hit 8-of-10 free throws to finish with 16 points, followed by Woodmore with 15 points, Owens with 12, and Heard with 11.