CAT | ODACcess
SALEM, Va. — The Virginia Wesleyan Marlins are the 2014 Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament champions. In the only truly competitive game from the quarterfinals on, VWC used timely three-point shooting and an 11-of-12 mark from the charity stripe down the stretch to outlast the Hampden-Sydney Tigers, 77-74, in an electric tournament final.
Khory Moore paced the Marlins in scoring with 21 points, DJ Woodmore finished an excellent tournament run with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Aaron Clark contributed 15 points and six assists off the bench. H-SC’s Mike Murray went off for 21 points and Khobi Williamson added a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Tigers in the tough defeat.
The game was so tight throughout that to recap its important moments would be to go through the game play-by-play. Besides, you can read recaps from the perspective of the winners or the losers elsewhere. Instead, here are some of our highlights and observations:
1. Forcing turnovers is Wesleyan’s bread-and-butter, and while they got their share on the night, they also committed several uncharacteristic unforced errors themselves, including a 10-second violation on a slow walk up the court without a Tiger defender in sight. It was odd, and Woodmore said the team knew it.
“We turned the ball over a little bit late in the first, but we took a couple timeouts, we settled down and got after it,” he said. “Once we started making shots, everything turns around once you start making shots.”
Whatever Coach Macedo said in those timeouts, it worked. After recording seven turnovers through the five-minute mark in the first half, VWC took its second timeout and committed none for the remainder of the frame and only turned it over three times in the second.
2. Murray’s 21 points were two shy of a season-high. He also filled the stat sheet, adding three rebounds, two steals, and two assists to the game-high-tying points mark. Murray played with a facemask for reasons that are still unclear to us, but it clearly didn’t impact his performance–he was a huge reason why this one was even close. (UPDATE: An H-SC official tells us that Murray broke his nose during the Tigers’ semifinal against Eastern Mennonite. Best wishes on a speedy recovery.)
3. We named Colby Heard our player of the game in VWC’s semifinal. He played well, though not exceptionally, on Sunday, but one moment stood out. After having a layup attempt blocked by Mitch Owens, Heard sprinted down the floor on VWC’s next possession, accepted an outlet pass from Clark, and rose up for a powerful dunk. His expression afterwards made it clear he was frustrated by the block and was relieved make up for it in a big way.
4. Khobi Williamson set the ODAC record for made field goals in the conference tournament early in the second half. Unfortunately, he had to commit his fifth personal foul late in the game to prevent an easy Marlin layup with the Tigers trailing. It’s unlikely that his presence would have changed the outcome–although it could have–but it’s still a shame he had to watch the final 16 seconds of his final ODAC tournament from the bench, especially because he had been outstanding to that point.
5. Like a true pro, Woodmore stepped up his game when it mattered most, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the second half. Also like a true pro, Woodmore–who was named tournament Most Outstanding Player, a trophy he can add to his conference Player of the Year honors–thanked his teammates for setting the stage for his play. “I’m really proud of the way we fought today, and how we fought all season. We played great basketball today,” he said.
6. Woodmore, Heard, Moore, Williamson, and Murray were named as the All-Tournament team. Well deserved honors for each and every one of them.
7. The post-game reactions and ceremony were perfect. Words can’t do it justice, so here’s just a few pictures:
With the victory, VWC has advanced to the NCAA Tournament. They are joined by Randolph-Macon, the conference tournament’s top-seed which fell to H-SC in the quarterfinals but did enough to earn an at-large bid from the NCAA.
Both teams will host first- and second-round games, both beginning on Saturday. The Marlins will play Johns Hopkins with the winner taking on the winner of Alvernia/Wesley in the second round. DeSales travels to Ashland for a matchup against R-MC; the winner faces the better of Mary Washington and Springfield. If the Marlins and Yellow Jackets can emerge from these difficult pods, they would meet in the third round.
ODACcess will attend at least one of the first-round games, but which one has yet to be determined. Stay tuned!
We waited a few days before posting this writeup both because we wanted to collect ourselves after a long weekend, and also to give some of this space to the teams we have seen this year which saw their seasons end during the tournament. Without further ado, a memoriam for the 2013-14 ODAC non-advancing teams:
To Guilford: It was so refreshing to see your team always hustling, no matter what the score. Your early tournament exit must have been disappointing, but watching you was a blast this year when we were able to. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t thank the student staffer (you know who you are) who spotted us in the stands and invited us down to the scorer’s table when we came to Greensboro.
To Lynchburg: Your fans are awesome, and your team has an admirable cohesiveness. Your pace, the fastest in the league, is always entertaining to watch. Coach Scott has a system in place, and it should bring you success in the coming seasons.
To Eastern Mennonite: We wish we could have seen you more. To say that we were surprised by your home crowd is an understatement–not only do fans come out to see you in droves, but they’re some of the most passionate and energetic folks in the league. On the court, you’re well-coached, high-flying, and fun. Oh yeah, and you were part of the most exciting game we witnessed this year, and possibly ever–it’s a shame you had to lose, but it was a heck of a way to go down. Finally, just three words: David. Falk. Dunks.
To Randolph: You were the first ODAC team we watched play, and you got us off to a great start. You played hard even when outmatched by Division I’s Liberty. We couldn’t love the RAD Center more. The faint air of chlorine from the pool across the hall might be irksome to some people, but don’t count us among them. It’s charming.
To Bridgewater: You surprised the heck out of us when you took down then-#15 VWC in Harrisonburg. You ran the Marlins off the floor–almost literally, given the absurdly fast pace at which you played. It was a lesson in how tough every game in the ODAC can be. Wesleyan got its revenge in the tournament, but that game was one to remember.
To Hampden-Sydney: What to say here that hasn’t been said. Your fight in the tournament was impressive throughout, especially your resolve when Randolph-Macon came within striking distance in your quarterfinal. It’s a shame that Khobi Williamson won’t end his career with a tournament berth, but he and your team played hard until the bitter end, and for that you’ve earned our respect.
To Roanoke: That EMU game! We can’t say enough about how well your team handled that situation. In terms of Roanoke generally, we were impressed with your campus, and your home court in particular–extending the stands all the way down to the court is a nice touch. It feels intimate, homey even. It’s a great place to see a game.
To Shenandoah: With no disrespect to Woodmore, Williamson, Falk, or any of the other outstanding athletes we’ve seen, Avery Green was our favorite player this year. His craftiness and instincts with the ball in his hands are simply exquisite, and hard to encapsulate in such a small space as here. He’s also a great guy: he will drop 30 points on the night with almost no help and then defer to his coach and his team as the reasons he played so well. Class act.
To Washington and Lee: Terrific run in the tournament. To say you punched above your weight would be an understatement of epic proportions. Your team is clearly dedicated to each other and their coach. In most other conferences, your regular season record would have kept you out of the tournament–but the ODAC gave a chance, and you seized it with aplomb.
Finally, to Emory and Henry: We saw you three times this season, but unfortunately missed your two conference wins. This wasn’t your year, but you never let that get you down, fighting tooth-and-nail in every game. Best of luck to you and Coach Willson as you continue your rebuild.
It has been a great season of ODAC basketball. Will we have a full postmortem, complete with thanking the many, many people who have helped us along the way, once the NCAA Tournament is over. For now, thanks for reading. We truly appreciate your support.
- Final: #2 Va. Wesleyan Marlins 77, #8 Hampden-Sydney Tigers 74
- Player of the Game: Khory Moore (21 points on 11 shots; game-sealing free-throws with one second remaining)
SALEM, Va. — According to Dave McHugh, host of Hoopsville, Virginia Wesleyan’s chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament hinged on making the finals of the ODAC Tournament. The second-seeded Marlins needed at least 21 wins on the year to have a plausible argument for at-large consideration, McHugh reasoned, and they needed to take care of business against Bridgewater and Washington and Lee, both teams quite a ways down the ODAC regular-season standings from VWC, to get to those 21 victories.
Well take care of business they did, as the Marlins followed up a quarterfinal win over the BC Eagles with a semifinal victory over the #11 W&L Generals, 74-60, at Salem Civic Center on Saturday night.
Of course, Va. Wesleyan would prefer not to have to wait until Monday to find out if they’re making the big tournament, and they can prevent that wait by cutting down the nets after tomorrow’s tussle with eighth-seeded Hampden-Sydney. The Tigers knocked off #5 EMU earlier Saturday to set up the championship matchup.
But tonight’s win, powered by Colby Heard’s double-double off the bench–23 points on 13 shots to go with 11 rebounds– and featuring important contributions from ODAC Player of the Year DJ Woodmore (23 points, 5-of-9 on three-point attempts, 7 rebounds) and Rookie of the Year Khory Moore (10 points–eight in the second half–and three steals), puts the Marlins firmly in the conversation for an at-large should the Tigers prevail tomorrow.
Heard said he loved coming off the bench. “When I come in, I have something of an advantage, because everybody’s kind of tired at that point, so I can just get up and down the floor easier.”
Generals’ senior big man Drew Kimberly had another solid game, chipping in a team-high 19 points and collecting seven rebounds, but unlike the team’s upset wins over Randolph and third-seeded Guilford, his squad was unable to outmatch the Marlins physically. VWC managed to pull down nine offensive boards and used quick hands, particularly from Moore, to accumulate 11 steals, which turned into 19 points by the end of the night.
“We wanted to dig down on Kimberly,” Woodmore told us. “He’s an all-conference player. We knew that he could be effective if he got open looks so we wanted to dig down on him, force him into some tough shots, force some turnovers, and just be active on defense.”
Kimberly was nostalgic after the game. “I loved [playing for W&L]. No regrets. It’s a long road, a lot of ups and downs. We were able to make it as far as I’ve ever made it this year, so I’m happy that we made it this far.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, Wesleyan won both meetings with the Tigers this season. Most recently, on February 12th, VWC overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to protect their home court.
“We always look forward to playing Hampden-Sydney, and I know they look forward to playing us each time,” said Woodmore. “We got fortunate to beat them two times this year…. We know we’re going to have to work hard on Khobi Williamson, he was a beast today, and we’re going to have to cling to their shooters a little bit.”
The second seed featuring the conference Player of the Year versus the giant-slayer which took down top-seeded Randolph-Macon: tomorrow’s final will be worth watching. See you then.
- Final: #2 Va. Wesleyan Marlins 74, #11 Washington and Lee Generals 60
- Player of the Game: Colby Heard (VWC) (23 points on 13 shots, 11 rebounds)
SALEM, Va. — It would be hard to imagine a more complete victory than this. Eighth-seeded Hampden-Sydney dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 104-80 rout of #5 Eastern Mennonite, securing a berth in the ODAC championship game for the first time since 2007.
We were convinced that this would be a battle between H-SC’s Khobi Williamson and EMU’s David Falk, two of the strongest and most athletically gifted players in the ODAC. And while Williamson certainly did his part, recording a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds (both game-highs), Falk got into foul trouble early and was unfortunately a non-factor for the Royals. A day after setting an ODAC record by grabbing 28 boards against Lynchburg, Falk managed to pull down just four this evening in a season-low 18 minutes of game time.
Williamson added a transition block and three dunks, including a rim-shaking slam after he got his own miss on a free-throw attempt, to his line on the evening. Despite a performance that dwarfed anyone else on the court, Williamson was deferential to the efforts of EMU. “It was a battle,” he took pains to note after the game.
This one started out competitively enough, with six lead changes and two ties in the opening six minutes. The Royals looked like they would continue the strong play that led to their big quarterfinal win over the LC Hornets.
But Williamson’s game-tying jumper at the 14:45 mark sparked a 17-7 run for the Tigers, and they never looked back.
The Royals sent Falk to the bench when he committed his second foul on a pump fake under the basket. “We told our guys, if you get around the basket, use your pump fakes, be wise, because [Falk] likes to block shots,” said H-SC head coach Dee Vick. “Fortunately we did that and he picked up a couple.”
“A loss is a loss. I’m not making any excuses,” Falk, who picked up quick fouls the other two times he entered the game, stated. “We expected to win the ODAC Tournament and advance to the NCAAs, and it didn’t happen, so we’ll get back to work and make it happen next year.”
The Tigers will have an opportunity to win that ODAC title, when they face off against the winner of tonight second semifinal between #2 Virginia Wesleyan and surprise semifinalist #11 Washington and Lee. H-SC knocked off top seed Randolph-Macon to advance to the semifinals.
- Final: #8 Hamden-Sydney Tigers 104, #5 Eastern Mennonite Royals 80
- Player of the Game: Khobi Williamson (H-SC) (28 points, 11 rebounds)
SALEM, Va. — We’ve told you about possibly the ODAC’s best story, Washington and Lee forward Jim Etling. We’ve told you about W&L’s surprising upset win over Randolph in the opening round of the ODAC Tournament. What’s left to say about the Generals’ even bigger upset, a 77-70 victory over #3 Guilford in Friday’s quarterfinals?
Not much. No General was particularly flashy in the win–Andrew Franz was his usual self, scoring points in bunches and finishing with 17 so quietly that barely anyone noticed, and ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Drew Kimberly paced all scorers with a neat 24 points on 17 shots–and although Guilford made it close several times late, the victor never seemed in much doubt to us, because the Generals were the superior squad.
There were a few moments that might’ve made a passionate W&L fan nervous, however. One such moment occurred at roughly the seven minute mark of the second half. A Trever Hyatt triple had just cut Guilford’s deficit to 5, the W&L fans behind us began to get anxious.
But then Kimberly made two buckets from underneath the basket, and when Kevin Gill picked Jake Hopkins’ pocket and drove the length of the floor himself, pushing the advantage back to double-digits, the Generals looked they could defeat anyone. Kimberly capped off the run with another contested shot in the paint to make put Washington and Lee up 13 once more, 65-52.
The Quakers made a few important baskets and kept things close thereafter, but never managed to get closer than within 4 from that point forward.
But Guilford made WLU earn it at the end. The Quakers switched to a full-court press with about two minutes left, and it was very effective, causing two jump balls and a WLU timeout in quick succession. But Generals Coach Hutchinson must have figured out the optimal strategy to break it: spring Kleinlein down the court on the inbounds. After embracing that strategy, his team started to break the press, hit their free-throws down the stretch, and came away with yet another upset win. Their path gets no easier from here: they will play #2 Va. Wesleyan tomorrow in the second semifinal. For now, though, they can rest on yet another upset victory.
- Final: #11 Washington and Lee 77, #3 Guilford 70
- Player of the Game: Drew Kimberly (W&L) (24 points on 17 shots, 8 rebounds)
SALEM, Va. — We just aren’t going to get a close ODAC tournament quarterfinal, are we? Well, at least this one was a little different–the higher-seeded squad won.
DJ Woodmore and Khory Moore combined for 45 points with Woodmore contributing 8 rebounds as the second-seeded Virginia Wesleyan Marlins trounced the seventh-seeded Bridgewater Eagles, 91-70, to advance to the ODAC Tournament semifinals on Friday night.
It was a showcase of the old and the new, as Woodmore, a senior and ODAC Player of the Year, worked with Moore, the conference’s Rookie of the Year, to take down the Eagles. “As soon as [Moore] stepped on campus, I knew he was a special player,” Woodmore said after the game. “I’ve just encouraged him to stay humble and stay hungry.”
For Moore, everything comes down to his coaching. ”[Coach Macedo] expects perfection,” said Moore, and it was clear that the quest for perfection was a driving force in Moore’s game. “He was always in my ear, encouraging to play to my potential, be the best player I can be.” Moore noted that Macedo inspired his rookie to expand beyond his role as a shooter, and get involved in all facets of the game.
It was a true wire-to-wire victory for the Marlins, who needed this win to stay in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they fail to cut down the nets after Sunday’s conference tournament final. Sedric Nady opened the evening’s scoring with one of the team’s 14 three-pointers and his team never looked back.
It was also an all-around victory. The Marlins were dominant from inside the arc and, particularly, outside it (14-for-28 on three-point attempts), on the glass (+15 rebounding differential; VWC had almost as many offensive boards (18) as the Eagles had defensive boards (19)), at the line (86%), and in ball distribution (15 assists to BC’s 8). Pretty much the only stat category the Marlins didn’t win was turnovers, as they were narrowly edged, 13-10, in that department.
As with Hampden-Sydney’s win over Randolph-Macon and Eastern Mennonite’s besting of Lynchburg, this was sweet revenge for a regular-season defeat for Va. Wesleyan. Bridgewater quite unexpectedly took down then-D3hoops.com-#15 VWC in January, in a game the Marlins really should have won. The fans who traveled to Salem all the way from Virginia Beach to support their Marlins on this night were a small contingent, but they were passionate and creative. They were rewarded with an emphatic message from their squad: we may have fallen out of the national rankings several weeks ago, but we aren’t about to go away quietly.
For their efforts, the Marlins move on to the semifinals, where they will face the winner of tonight’s final game between #3 Guilford and #11 Washington and Lee tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m.
- Final: #2 Virginia Wesleyan Marlins 91, #7 Bridgewater Eagles 70
- Co-Players of the Game: Khory Moore (25 points) and DJ Woodmore (20 points, 8 rebounds)