ODACcess: N.C. Home Cookin’ (Emory and Henry @ Guilford)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Unlike the archetypal sporting road trip, the 30 ballpark whirlwind tour, our project has a slightly smaller geographic scale. As such, the trek down from our Charlottesville homebase to Guilford (the sole ODAC school not within the namesake Old Dominion) was something of an event: carefully planned to fall during a lull in our academic schedules, and treated as more of an adventure than some of our other trips. For us this meant sampling the local cuisine in the form of a randomly-chosen barbecue joint; we ended up at Country Barbecue, about four miles south of the Guilford campus. Of course, in the land of barbecue, it’s hard to go wrong, and our meals were expectedly delicious. (We would later learn about Greensboro’s marquee BBQ establishment–Stamey’s Barbecue–from Guilford’s Sports Information Director, Dave Walters, who described it as “a legend.” Expect us next time, Stamey’s.) But the food is just one of the reasons to consider a return to Guilford. More importantly, Coach Tom Palombo has put together an exciting basketball team with the chance to compete in the ODAC for years to come.

Like many of its fellow ODAC members, Guilford has a strong basketball history, but unlike the others, not in the NCAA. The Quakers’ NAIA pedigree is notable for its famous names (does World B. Free ring a bell?) and winning ways, including a 1973 National Championship (a team which included future pros Free, M.L. Carr and Greg Jackson).

World B. Free, Guilford Quaker, future NBA star

GC’s foray into the NCAA didn’t start as successfully when it made the transition in 1991. But in the last 11 years, since luring Palombo away from Defiance College, the Quakers have won two ODAC titles and made two Final Four appearances up the road in Salem. This year seems to be more of the same from Guilford, who have taken advantage of the missteps of their more heralded brethren to take first place in the ODAC early in the conference schedule. If they continue to play like they did against Emory and Henry, they’ll have a great chance at a third.

The Quakers got out to an early lead in front of a small, but boisterous crowd. Highlighted by two treys from Matt McCarthy, Guilford set the tone for the rest of the game. McCarthy also created an easy layup with an alert interception. The E&H offense seemed befuddled and lackadaisical, letting easy passes through their legs and allowing rebounds to bounce around wildly until they found their way into Quaker hands. Their outside looks, although mostly left undefended, failed to fall during this early run, allowing to Quakers to jump out to a 12-2 lead they would never surrender.

Yet, it seemed shortly that the Wasps would keep this competitive. The open looks from three they found started to fall, and guards Drew Henry and Ryan Gravely converted three of them in as many possessions. They failed to produce stops on the other end, but still managed to narrow the margin to 6.

But the hot streak was not to last; the Wasps went cold and got colder as the half drew on. They attempted 11 more threes in the 13 minutes before halftime, and made exactly none of them. It began to appear as though Coach Palombo’s game plan was to force the Wasps to take long shots, knowing that their best deep-ballers, Malcolm Green and Stephen Brown, shot only 30% from range. If that was the game plan it was effective: buoyed by excellent shooting from deep, the Quakers extended their lead to 43-22 by the half.

At this point, having caught wind of our @ODACcess livetweets, Guilford invited us to join the ranks of the press at the scorers’ table, right by the home bench. While we’d like to say we gleaned some insights from Coach Palombo due to our physical proximity and keen hearing, I’m afraid that would be a lie. What we did get was a spectacular view of the action and the environs of Alumni Gym. We also had a chance to hear Coach Palombo’s passionate encouragement to his squad, in a game that was already out of hand, to continue to hustle.

A view from the scorers' table

And hustle they did. The starters got to take much of the half off, although not before matching a season-best 11 three-pointers in the game. That provided opportunities for players on the back of the bench. Among the standouts was freshman Michael Byrd, who in his nine second-half minutes grabbed five points, showing a lot of energy in the process and making his pitch to be a big component of future Quaker teams. We like his chances.

The absence of the Guilford starters gave the Wasps an opportunity to claw a little closer. One of the bright spots for Coach Willson and the respectable fan contingent had to have been Drew Henry’s dunk late in the half. But the final stats make clear that they’ll have to work on their shooting if they want to grab their first conference win: a 31.9% field goal percentage won’t cut it in this competitive league. Guilford coasted through the second half to an 81-59 victory.

It’s a shame that Guilford is such a journey. They’re an exciting team that we’d love to see again.

Final: Guilford Quakers 81 (11-3, 5-0 ODAC), Emory and Henry Wasps 59 (2-12, 0-5)
Player of the Game: Matt McCarthy (Guilford, 20 points, 3 steals and 5 rebounds)
Mileage Tracker: 1226 miles
Next Stop: Lynchburg at Washington and Lee, January 18

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 6

This is getting to be a bit out of control. I easily have 40 teams I could have a valid argument to place on my Top 25 ballot. I have probably only 15 or so teams I am absolutely confident are must Top 25 teams. That means I have 25 teams I am trying to slot into 10 or so spots. I could go round and round and round on this and still not be satisfied with my ballot. I stared at the 17 hole for hours wondering who I should put in that spot. In fact, I probably was thinking that as high as 15. There is just a large gap in the middle of my poll where teams are placed only because I have to fill the spots – they seem to high. That being said, the teams behind them don’t deserve to be that high either, so it becomes a circle of constant questions and not a lot of answers.

Thankfully, or maybe unfortunately, conference schedules are now in full swing. Some of the teams that have had great out-of-conference starts are showing if those results are indicative of how good they really are. Usually that means questions are being answered… but this year I seem to be gathering more questions as another week comes and goes. And that usually means I am on the doorstep and probably knocking on what will mean a complete overhaul of my ballot. In fact, I probably should have considered it more this week. In fact as I look more and more at my entire ballot, I wish I had. You know what that means? I better carve out plenty of time this week or next for an overhaul.

But instead, here is a look at my ballot this week. If you want to get an idea of what I think of teams I may not comment on below, here is last week’s ballot.

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)

2 – Cabrini (Up 1)
The Cavaliers have certainly not played anyone challenging in recent weeks thanks to their game against Wesley being postponed, so they are creeping rather high on the ballot. That being said, they may have the best player in the nation and sounds like they got a really good transfer from the state of Florida. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until February 3 to find out if Cabrini is really this good.

3 – Wooster (Up 1)

4 – WPI (Up 1)
The Engineers continue to impress me. Wins over Springfield and MIT (in a series that dates back to 1902!) shows me this team may actually be as good as I figured. Of course, WPI rose in my rankings like this last year and failed to get out of the second round thanks to suddenly hot Randolph-Macon squad, but I have a feeling that lose and the adjustments early in the season after losing their top guard may have done them more favors than many realize.

5 – Illinois Wesleyan (Down 3)
Last year it took until the last game of the regular season for the Titans to lose their first CCIW game; this year it took until the second game of conference play before Augustana tripped up IWU. By all reports, IWU just had a bad night that is to take nothing away from the Vikings. Can’t punish IWU that much when you lose against a very good Augustana squad… so three spots feels right especially when I think this Titans squad is a serious threat for Salem.

6 – St. Thomas (Up 1)

7 – UW-Whitewater (Up 1)

8 – Amherst (Up 1)
It was an impressive win over Williams to start NESCAC play. The Lord Jeffs look sluggish at times this season, but Dave Hixon always seems to get his team ready for the really big games and a rivalry game against Williams is really big.

9 – Williams (Down 3)
First loss in conference play is against your arch rival on the road and you get dinged three spots. Maybe that is not entirely fair, but IWU lost on the road as well and I couldn’t keep Williams ahead of Amherst after the loss.

10 – St. Mary’s (Unchanged)

11 – Wittenberg (Unchanged)

12 – Wash U. (Up 1)

13 – St. Norbert (Up 2)
This may be the unsung team of the Midwest Region and Wisconsin. The Green Knights just look good right now. The problem is they never get a break since they play in a conference that is middle of the pack and sit in a geographical area where they know the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is going to be anything but a cupcake. I like St. Norbert because I think they are sneaky good… time will tell if that gut feeling is right.

14 – Augustana (Down 2)
This one gave me plenty of angst. The Vikings beat Illinois Wesleyan at home, but then lose Wheaton (Ill.) on the road three days later. I also know there were probably plenty of distractions on Saturday with a family matter for Grey Giovanine. I wanted to leave them be at number 12, but I felt like the lose to Wheaton – who I also have ranked – needed to be that game the Vikings won to really take hold of their season. This is one of those moves that gets me thinking about blowing up my ballot and starting over.

15 – Wesley (Up 1)

16 – Oglethorpe (Up 1)
Wow… what a week for Oglethorpe! They win two games that both go into double overtime! Certainly people will say that may mean they aren’t as good as I have them ranked, but I would say that means they can fight out tough games especially considering they hadn’t played a game in nearly two weeks when practically everyone else is playing. This Petrels team impressed me this week.

17 – Whitworth (Up 2)

18 – Messiah (Up 5)
This is about where I started second guessing myself about my ballot a lot. It isn’t that Messiah isn’t a good team who continues to prove themselves, I just wonder if I am setting myself up for disappointment here. Messiah did beat an underachieving Lycoming before then beating handily a very underachieving Alvernia squad both at home. However, they face Stevenson squad in a gym the Mustangs have only lost in once this season. They then have a trap game in Arcadia looming.

19 – Bowdoin (Unranked)
I can’t ignore the Polar Bears any longer. Well it wasn’t like I was actually ignoring them, but I was leery it could be a lot of smoke and mirrors. However, Bowdoin beat Connecticut College and Wesleyan to start their NESCAC season and did so in somewhat convincing fashion at least against Conn College. The Polar Bears may be the real surprise of the NESCAC this season.

20 – Mary Washington (Unchanged)

21 – Dickinson (Unranked)
I have had the Red Devils on my radar for a very long time and was ready to pull the trigger for last week’s poll until they couldn’t follow up the Guilford win with a victory against Randolph-Macon. Having seen Dickinson in person and play impressively without their two best players… this Dickinson squad is living up to the high expectations many in the Centennial and the Mid-Atlantic Region had for them in October.

22 – Calvin (Down 9)
I realize the Knights may be banged up right now and I realize Hope was gunning for them to help jumped start their season, but right now things don’t look good. Calvin has lost two of their last three including a big rivalry game against Hope and they barely beat then 1-11 Alma at home. Calvin isn’t getting many votes in the Top 25 to begin with and honestly I probably am being too kind keeping them on my ballet.

23 – Wheaton (Ill.) (Up 2)
The win over Augustana was a nice touch for a team I nearly dropped out of my Top 25 ballet last week. However, they have Carthage and Illinois Wesleyan ahead of them this week, so this could be short lived. I am just not convinced Wheaton is really a Top 25 team, but a win over Augustana keeps them here.

24 – Stevenson (Down 3)
I realize I am the only voter with the Mustangs on my ballot and I said up until Sunday I wasn’t going to keep them, but the results of others kept me from pulling the trigger. The problem I have and I know others probably have is that this team just can’t prove they can win on the road. Stevenson lost to Albright who is underperforming in a game that could come back to bite the Mustangs when it comes to home court advantage in the conference tournament. So far Stevenson has proven they are one of the toughest teams to beat at home – though no lead seems to be safe. However, they have got to win the winnable games and win a couple of tough games on the road for anyone to take them seriously.

25 – Virginia Wesleyan (Down 3)
I realize I am one of a few voters not convinced with the Marlins and this week didn’t help their cause. They are a deep team with plenty of weapons, but they can’t go and lose to Bridgewater (Va.) especially in a game that ended up not being close. I left the Marlins on my ballot because I know what they are capable of, but Hampden-Sydney (away), Guildford (home), and Randolph-Macon (away) are their next three games. This could be a make or break seven days.

Dropped out:
Christopher Newport (Previously 17)
Four things happened to the Captains this past week and three of them were not good. First they lose to Wesley which at first doesn’t seem that bad. The problem was Christopher Newport was at home and they only scored 46 points. Now that alone wouldn’t have dropped them out of the poll, but they followed up that loss with a road loss to Penn-State Harrisburg (a win so big the local news covered it in Harrisburg). Now reports indicate the Captains are banged up, so with games against the bottom of the CAC coming up the time is now to right the ship and get back on course before facing the top of the conference again including a very difficult trip to Wesley.

Middlebury (Previously 24)
I don’t know what is up with the Panthers, but they lost to start the week against Plattsburgh State and then split their opening weekend in the NESCAC with a loss to Bates and a win over Tufts in a game that was far closer than the final score indicated. Before the Tufts win, Middlebury had lost three in a row. It almost seems like the Panthers are not improving as the season wears on and teams who see something on tape from earlier in the year are able still beat them because Middlebury isn’t fixing flaws. The one thing I do know… Middlebury is 7-5 and probably playing themselves right out of an NCAA opportunity.

ODACcess: Making a Splash in the Fish Tank (Randolph @ #15 Virginia Wesleyan)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The sports world abounds with clichés. Often, these are used to impart narrative meaning to game performances, even if to do so requires forcing a square peg into a round hole. This is not one of those times.

As we noted in our last entry, the Virginia Wesleyan Marlins, carrying a number #15 national ranking and high preseason expectations, had a rough go of it in their loss at Bridgewater. Thus, the cliché goes, Coach Dave Macedo’s crew would be due for a bounce-back game against Randolph College. To say that the Marlins merely “bounced back” would be an understatement. The blowout we thought we would see in Bridgewater manifested itself in the Batten Center.

Hanging with Bob Marlin

The Marlins team that showed up against the WildCats looked nothing like the bewildered and outhustled bunch that had lost three days before. First and foremost, they shot the three-ball with incredible precision throughout the first half. Against the Eagles, they managed only seven threes all game. The Marlins matched that mark in the first fourteen minutes, and didn’t stop there. By the end of the half, Wesleyan had made 12 threes in 20 attempts, which nearly equaled their number of attempts in their prior game. Even without sharpshooter Sedric Nady, and with another middling effort from star DJ Woodmore (8 point, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), Cameron Owens and Khory Moore more than equaled their offensive production, combining for 33 points.

Meanwhile, the Randolph offense struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the loss of ODACcess favorite Zach Desgain, missing his third consecutive game after an injury early in Randolph’s loss to Staten Island. However, it’s unlikely that his 10.9 points per game could have made the difference. For over 12 minutes in the first half, the WildCats failed to score from the field, by which point, the Marlins had moved out to a 40-8 lead, and it was all over but the shouting.

But we’d be remiss not to mention the defensive effort of the Marlins. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall would be proud: they played angry. After seeing the team “come out flat” in Bridgewater, Coach Macedo seemingly emphasized quickness on defense, and the team clearly took to it. They ran a full court press for most of the game, even after extending the game was far out of reach. By doing so, they managed a +9 turnover differential, including a shot clock violation. Every inbound pass seemed to take ages, and the Randolph offense never managed to get into a rhythm. One fan commented that this speed is a Macedo trademark, and it seems to be working: in his years at Virginia Wesleyan, he now has 300 wins to only 96 losses, and a national title to boot.

VWC's National Championship trophy (and your intrepid reporter's reflection)

The importance of this team to its community of fans cannot be understated, and Coach Macedo clearly has a role in that. He was very emphatic about wanting to teach his players to “be Marlins,” and the number of former players who were in attendance speaks to the commitment they have to their alma mater. The fans we spoke to were incredibly committed to following their team. One fan expressed a belief that others thought Marlins fans were “mean,” but nothing in our experience in the Fish Tank would suggest that.


The second half was more competitive, but Virginia Wesleyan’s first half dominance had made it little more than a formality. Still, Coach Nunley had to take a modicum of solace from his bunch’s performance in the second half. While they still didn’t match up to the torrent of threes VWC unleashed in the first, they put up a respectable 31 points, shooting 45.5% from the field. More encouragingly, they forced played much better defense, and cleaned up the defensive boards. They were, however, still susceptible to the Marlins’ thievery, which I’m sure will be a talking point this week in Lynchburg.

  • Final: #15 Va. Wesleyan Marlins 75 (10-3, 3-1 ODAC), Randolph WildCats 65 (8-5, 2-2)
  • Player of the Game: Cameron Owens (Va. Wesleyan) (19 points, 5 three-pointers, and 7 rebounds)
  • Relive the game from our seats: check out our @ODACcess livetweets on Storify
  • Mileage Tracker: 861 miles
  • Next Stop: Emory and Henry at Guilford, January 15

Hoopsville: We need your help

Hoopsville LogoTo be honest, this is hard for me to do. I am not great at asking for help, but enough people have come to me wondering why I don’t do just that. And here we are: Hoopsville Fundraising Campaign.

Hoopsville is a passion of mine. It started off as simply a “why not?” and turned into so much more. I have those at D3hoops.com, coaches, administrators, fans, and of course the viewers (both die-hard and occasional) to thank for that. I never imagined back in November 2000 that in January 2014 the show would be such a part of my life and a part of the Division III landscape. I am still humbled by coaches and others who say how important the show (along with D3hoops.com and D3sports.com as a network) is to basketball and Division III. I am humbled when the Vice President for Division III at the NCAA always takes the time to respond to my questions and eagerly agrees to sit-down for an interview (we have now done several “State of Division III” interviews over the years). But more importantly, I am humbled by the support I received from so many people including my wife and children who know Daddy has to be in his office and work on his show and eagerly watch the show from just ten feet above my head.

So it is hard to say I need help.

Hoopsville deserves to be so much better and the viewers who watch the show deserve my best effort. I have huge plans, but have no ability to make those plans happen without help. We would love to take the show on the road more often during the season to places we have never traveled and to places and events that deserve to have a spotlight shined on them. There are computer, technology, and equipment upgrades we must do to keep Hoopsville not only progressing forward, but on the air. And if we want to travel, there are expenses in doubling-up our equipment and gear and with traveling in general.

Over the years we have gotten generous contributions from D3hoops.com and the National Association of Basketball Coaches that are more than financial. We have stretched these contributions as far as we could even bank some to keep in reserve if needed. Both entities continue to support the show and we are more than humbled by their generosity of whatever kind. But the time has come to see if those who say people want to help the show are actually right.

We have started a crowdfunding effort for the show. We have a lofty goal I think can be reached, but it is not an all-or-nothing campaign. We plan to use the money along with other contributions to buy a new production computer, replace aging equipment, upgrade technological needs, look for a better streaming partner for the viewers, have the ability to travel on occasion with the show (outside of the final fours and championships), and improve the overall experience of Hoopsville. Not all of these changes will take place by the end of the season, but we can implement many of them. It will depend on whether we meet our goal or even exceed it (nothing wrong with that).

Hoopsville is a regular sight in Salem.

Hoopsville is a regular sight in Salem.

There are perks for those of you who contribute. They include:
– Contribute at least $10 and we will recognize you on our special contributors’ page on our website (www.d3hoopsville.com).
– Contribute at least $25 and we will recognize you on our contributors’ page and publicly thank you on a future Hoopsville show.
– The first 15 to contribute at least $50: we will recognize you on our contributors’ page, publicly thank you on a future show, and send you a Hoopsville t-shirt by the end of the basketball season.
– The first 15 to contribute at least $100: we will recognize you on our contributors’ page, publicly thank you on a future show, send you a Hoopsville t-shirt, and I will wear your school’s shirt on the show while also interviewing the men’s or women’s coach of your choosing.
– The first 10 to contribute at least $250: we will recognize you on our contributors’ page, publicly thank you on a future show, send you a Hoopsville t-shirt, I will wear your school’s shirt on the show while also interviewing the men’s or women’s coach of your choosing, and give you the chance to appear on Hoopsville to talk about your team and why you love Division III basketball.

hoopsvillephoto2012The campaign runs through Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, but this isn’t just something we will talk about. Coming up on Thursday, Jan. 30 we will do a super-sized show — 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET — to celebrate Division III basketball. It will be the perfect way to gear up for the last month of the regular season and start looking ahead to the NCAA tournaments. We will have guests on from around the country and schools we may not normally talk with. We will hear from those who care passionately about Division III basketball and those who may have moved up in their careers, but have strong roots in Division III. It is a daunting show to pull off, but because we are asking something from you it is only fitting we give you something like this show in return.

So pass on this fundraising effort and let us know how much this show means to you. We certainly understand if you cannot contribute financially, but if you are able to spread the word to others that could be just as rewarding. If you have something you think you can donate to the show (there are many ideas and ways), then let us know as well.

And as we kick off this four-week campaign I want to make sure I say thank you. Just the support this show as received from the NCAA offices to conference offices to head coach and athletics offices to the fans and viewers who tune in has gotten us – and me – to this point. We have been on the air since 2000 and for 11 seasons (unofficially) and with your help I suspect we will be on the air for a long time to come.

For more on the fundraising campaign, click here: http://igg.me/at/Hoopsville/x/6029509.

Dave McHugh
Creator and Host, Hoopsville

ODACcess: Beware Bridgewater (#15 Virginia Wesleyan @ Bridgewater (Va.))

BRIDGEWATER, Va. — We would like to begin this recap with an apology.

As the official car of ODACcess (a beat-up ‘04 Grand Am, RIP Pontiac) weaved in and out of innumerable Mack trucks on Interstate 81 en route to Bridgewater College on Wednesday evening, your hosts came to two seemingly logical assumptions about the game to come.

First, we’d see a blowout. The 15th-ranked Virginia Wesleyan Marlins (9-2, 2-0 ODAC entering the night) boasted the second-best scorer in the conference in D.J. Woodmore, a sniper averaging almost 24 points-per-game with a three-point percentage over 50%. Their only two losses had come at the hands of #14 Christopher Newport and #17 Mary Washington, and both of those strong squads needed overtime to do it. The hometown Eagles (6-4, 1-1), meanwhile, averaged 18 fewer points-per-game than the visitors and lacked a premier scoring threat. This one would be over by halftime.

Second, we’d be nearly alone in the bleachers. People will come see a midweek game, on a cold early January evening, during the students’ winter break, against a vastly superior team? Hah! We’ll be able to count the crowd on one hand.

Wrong and wrong. Nostra culpa, Bridgewater players and fans. We misjudged you. It won’t happen again.


In a thrilling game from start to finish, an electrified, rowdy, and creative crowd propelled Bridgewater over Virginia Wesleyan, 78-65.

From the outset, the gameplan drawn up by Eagles coach Don Burgess was clear: push the pace, push the pace, push the pace. Their first three defensive rebounds were like carbon copies of each other: Tavis Stapleton pulls down a board, he outlets to a teammate streaking down the floor, and that teammate outruns whichever Wesleyan defender managed to get anywhere close to being in position before coasting in for an easy layup. Rinse and repeat.

Even from a set position, Bridgewater wasted no time. After noticing their NASCAR-like early pace, we randomly selected five offensive possessions to chart their tempo. In each, an Eagle shot with more than 20 seconds left on the shot clock, and they averaged just 12 seconds from start to shot. The team’s obscenely uptempo pace has apparently seeped into their fans’ subconscious: on one atypical possession, as Bridgewater set up its offense from the point with only 16 seconds to shoot, one yelled, “Do something with it!” (They would score before the clock reached single digits.)

The Eagles’ plan worked–they built a double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes, going up 22-11–but their speed advantage wouldn’t last forever. The Marlins countered with a full-court press, which succeeded in considerably slowing down the Eagles and disrupting their offensive flow, even if it failed to produce many turnovers. The visitors capitalized with an 8-2 run to pull within five. But the home side solved the press soon after, with a few tightly-whipped passes beating defenders in the backcourt and leading to easy buckets on the other end. They scored 11 of 16 points in the latter stages of the half to take an eight-point advantage, 37-29, into the locker room.

At halftime, we turned to two of the more boisterous Bridgewater fans seated near us to get a sense of just how well they thought their boys had handled the opening 20 minutes. First, though, we wanted to get a sense of why they, like the hundreds upon hundreds of others in attendance, had braved the cold to see the game. One of the gentlemen smiled. “Well, the coach is my son.”


Well then, we asked the elder Mr. Burgess, does your son’s team always play so quickly? He smiled again. “Not always this fast, but when they run the floor this well, they’ve got a chance to beat anybody.”

That might be a stretch, but one thing is certain: running the floor well can have the effect of hyping up the crowd. And hyped they were. Oh, and did we mention they were creative? In between heckling the refs for every close call that didn’t go their way (and some that weren’t so close to going their way) and generally hooting, hollering, and cheering on their team’s offense, the student section found time to hurl some inspired taunts at Marlin shooters.


They warmed up with a melodic “Sed-ric! Sed-ric!” chant as Sedric Nady prepared to shoot free-throws. Their next target, senior forward Colby Heard, was greeted with a pithy “Why do you have shinguards!?” call. By the second half they were on fire, poking fun at Trent Batson’s hairline and, in perhaps their strongest effort given the stakes, filled Nininger Hall with a chorus of “Over-rated!” when Woodmore bricked one of several ill-fated three-point attempts he took that night.

Bridgewater led throughout the second, but despite a healthy margin on paper for most of the half, it felt like the favored Marlins could take control at any minute. They hung around, never letting the deficit extend beyond 13 and slowly chipping away until Heard posted eight straight Wesleyan points, backing up two old-school three-point plays with another couple of free-throws, to pull Wesleyan within five with six minutes to play.

Then the Eagles woke back up. Ed Reddick countered with an and-one of his own before Stapleton and Ronnie Thomas drilled from outside the arc to push the lead back to 14. VWC’s Khory Moore cut it to 10 at the 1:36 mark.

But any thoughts of a late comeback were quashed with a pair of free throws and an emphatic one-handed transition dunk by Aaron Adams, who picked Moore’s pocket and–appropriately, given one proud father’s halftime wisdom–ran the floor himself for the house-shaking slam. “That was a MAN’S dunk!” Mr. Burgess’s companion gleefully bellowed to us, as the crowd young and old came to its feet in unison.

Woodmore would finish with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but five of those points came in garbage time. Tomorrow, we’ll trek to Virginia Beach to see if he and the Marlins can bounce back against Randolph College (and whether head coach Dave Macedo can earn his 300th career win). It will be our longest drive of this season so far, so we’ll need plenty of conversation topics to pass the time. We’ll hold off on prognosticating, though. Bridgewater taught us that lesson with a compelling performance on the court and deafening roars in the stands.

  • Final: Bridgewater (Va.) Eagles 78 (7-4, 2-1 ODAC), #15 Va. Wesleyan Marlins 65 (9-3, 2-1)
  • Player of the Game: Tavis Stapleton (Bridgewater) (19 points on 11 shots; 13 rebounds)
  • Relive the game from our seats: check out our @ODACcess livetweets on Storify
  • Mileage Tracker: 527 miles
  • Next Stop: Randolph College at Virginia Wesleyan, January 11