ODACcess Rapid Recap: #8 H-SC Blows Past #5 EMU

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)

ODACcess Rapid Recap: Falk Sets Rebounding Record As EMU Advances

SALEM, Va. — The only time Lynchburg and Eastern Mennonite faced off the in regular season, way back on November 23, LC’s Manny Hernandez scored 28 points en route to a 107-87 rout of the Royals. EMU returned the favor in the ODAC Tournament quarterfinals.

David Falk led the way with an ODAC-record 28 rebounds to go with 16 points and two blocks, Ryan Yates paced all scorers with 34 points on 17 shots, and Marcel Crump chipped in 16 points of his own as the fifth-seeded Royals knocked off the fourth-seeded Hornets, 93-81, in the second Friday quarterfinal at Salem Civic Center.


“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Yates said. “I’m as good a player as anyone in the conference, and I didn’t feel like we were getting the recognition we deserved.”

With the exception of a 2-2 tie, the Royals led wire-to-wire. EMU bought itself some early breathing room from the 12:40 mark on, using a 19-2 run to go out in front 30-11. Lynchburg went off for 10 straight after that point, but the Royals immediately responded. Falk threw down a dunk, beginning a spurt where the fifth seed scored 11 of the half’s final 13 points.

The game was more notable for its rarities than for its competitiveness (which it lacked). Falk produced a beautiful, clean block in the second half after being called for goaltending on a similar play in the first; Crump took advantage of LC confusion in transition to rise and slam a thunderous alley-oop; we saw our first blocked three-point attempt of the year, as EMU’s Woody Furbrush turned away a Daniel Rowe try; and in one of the more odd stats of the day, three free-throw attempts were airballed, with one failing to even touch the net.


One of those failures from the line belonged to Falk, but it didn’t matter. He was a machine on the defensive glass, not letting Lynchburg get second-chance opportunities. On a night where the Hornets shot just 36% from the floor, that alone made the difference. Thanks to his efforts, Eastern Mennonite advances to tomorrow’s semifinal against #8 Hampden-Sydney.


  • Final: #5 Eastern Mennonite Royals 93, #4 Lynchburg Hornets 81
  • Player of the Game: David Falk (EMU) (ODAC-record 28 rebounds, 16 points, 2 blocks)

ODACcess: Jack Buck Wouldn’t Believe It (Roanoke @ Eastern Mennonite)

HARRISONBURG, Va. — During our discussions of the Project over the course of our everyday lives, we realized that, while we had seen excellent basketball, none of the games we had covered had been truly close. Plenty had been competitive, with one team within striking distance of the other for much the game, but that is not what we mean by close. A truly close game is exhilarating, hair-raising, and the buzz in the building is almost indescribable. This was one of those games.

Of all the schools in the ODAC, Eastern Mennonite was the only school we had yet to see in our travels, which meant we didn’t exactly know what to expect from the Royals. They’d beaten the teams they were supposed to, and lost to the teams they weren’t, and found themselves slotted into the middle of the pack with a 5-4 conference record.

Eastern Mennonite takes their halftime warmups
We had, however, visited Roanoke for “Maroon Madness”, when they gave front-running Randolph-Macon a run for their money in front of a boisterous crowd. They had backed up that strong performance with a home victory over Washington and Lee, and were coming into Yoder Arena on something of a roll.

After a stop at Jess’ Quick Lunch in downtown Harrisonburg, we made our way (slightly delayed) to Yoder Arena. The game was already heated when we found seats in the visitors’ fan section behind the RC bench. Both teams were playing extremely quick basketball, and playing it efficiently: based on our hasty halftime calculation, they each possessed the ball approximately 45 times. The Royals, in particular, lived up to their “Runnin’” nickname, moving up the floor quickly, and making athletic moves to the basket, highlighted by David Falk and James Williams. Roanoke, on the other hand, employed their standard offense, taking advantage of center Daniel Eacho’s size to create high-percentage shots in the post. The two styles, and the speed of the game, made for an excellent and competitive first half, and the fans (both home and visitor) were appreciative as the teams went to break with RC holding a 44-43 lead.

The scoreboard at halftime

The pace slowed slightly in the second half, but the level of play never slackened. For the course of the half, neither team opened more than a 6 point edge, and they traded shot for shot, layup for layup, and free throw for free throw. EMU jumped out in front early, but soon cooled off, allowing Julian Ramirez to score 6 points as part of a 15-6 Maroons run to take a 59-53 lead. It seemed that RC was set to take control, but EMU had other ideas. David Falk unleashed a tremendous dunk as part of the Royals’ response, followed up by a triple from Ryan Yates. At the 11:54 mark, they retook the lead from the Maroons by a score of 63-62.

The pace began to pick back up, and the teams continued to show off their ability to create acrobatic shots, and draw the fouls. Notably, Daniel Eacho and Julian Ramirez picked up four and three fouls respectively in the half, but countered that with 23 points between them.

Daniel Eacho prepares to play defense after a score

No matter where the players shot from, they seemed able to find the net. They continued this high-paced, back-and-forth play, with the lead either way only once three points, and with 1:48 left, after Ryan Yates missed a three-pointer for the Royals, the Maroons had a 83-82 lead, and a chance to extend their lead.

That’s when the madness began. EMU’s played stout defense, knowing that they needed a stop, or it might be over. The shot clock hit six and Andrew Daniels realized he was short on time, and threw up a NBA-range three that banked in. 86-82 Maroons, with 1:06 on the clock, and EMU called time out to regroup. Out of the break, EMU moved with purpose the floor, and scored on a quick Marcel Crump layup. EMU’s defense set out to force a turnover, but the Maroons got it across the floor. But wait…a travel is called on ‘Noke’s Cameron Smith with 30 ticks left, keeping the Royals’ hopes alive!
Off the turnover, Crump had an attempt at a game-tying jumper, but Smith redeemed himself with a block and rebound. He was quickly fouled, and went to the line for a one-and-one to try and seal it for the Maroons with 15 seconds on the clock. The Maroons opted to play back instead of defending the front end, but nonetheless Marcel Crump was able to take the bounce off the front of the rim, run the floor and find RJ Sims for the open, go-ahead three. 87-86 Royals, nine seconds left. Time for RC to call its last timeout and draw up its last play.
Except the Maroons didn’t call timeout. Instead, they ran the floor and found John Fitchett, who had had an otherwise unremarkable day, in the paint, and he drained a half-floater, half-layup with 2.4 seconds, making the Maroons fans that surrounded us lose their minds.

John Fitchett (Roanoke, #25) hits a go-ahead jumper with 2.4 seconds left

The Quakers quickly inbounded, but then the clock stopped before the final shot, causing confusion around the gym. Did the clock operator forget to turn the clock on? Was the game over? Nearby Maroon fans certainly thought it was, but it turned out that the EMU bench managed to call a timeout before the inbounds, allowing Coach Kirby Dean to draw up a play.
It was only fitting for this game to end the way it did: by taking a turn for the surreal. Attempting to inbound the ball, EMU’s inbounder tried to pass to a teammate behind the baseline, to allow him to get a better read of the court before inbounding. Instead, the teammate caught the ball in midair milliseconds before landing out of bounds, resulting in an inbounds violation and a turnover and allowing the Maroons to run out the brief time left on the clock on their third conference win of the year.
When we spoke with Dave McHugh on his marathon session of Hoopsville, we mentioned that the level of play in the ODAC was incredibly high. This was the kind of game that exemplifies that, the kind of game that sticks with you, and the kind of game that makes you excited for the next one.

Final: Roanoke Maroons (9-9, 3-7 ODAC) 88, Eastern Mennonite Royals (10-9, 5-5 ODAC) 87
Player of the Game: Daniel Eacho (Roanoke, 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks)
Honorable Mention: David Falk (EMU, 22 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal)
Relive the game from our seats: check out our photos on Flickr and our @ODACcess livestream on Storify
Mileage Tracker: 1864 miles
Next Stop: Randolph-Macon at Emory and Henry, February 8

Part II: 10 questions for 2010

It’s a midseason review. It’s a rest-of-season preview. Stop – you’re both right! Actually, it’s the second part of our 10 burning questions for 2010. Here is Part I.

South: Whom would you take to win the ODAC – No. 4 Randolph-Macon, No. 6 Guilford, or the field?

Whom you take might depend on what we mean by “win the ODAC” since the Conference tournament has been unkind to favorites recently. Last year the top three seeds lost in their first tournament game and Randolph-Macon in particular has struggled, losing its tournament opener each year since 2006. This year’s Yellow Jacket squad is on a small list of undefeated teams with wins over DeSales, Wooster and Williams when each of them was ranked. They have five players scoring double-digits and leader Danny Jones is playing just 18.0 minutes per game. Guilford has the pedigree of last year’s run to the final four and Preseason All Americans Tyler Sanborn and Clay Henson who have combined for 36.7 points and 15.9 rebounds per game through Sunday. This is more than a two horse race, though. Eastern Mennonite is undefeated against Division III teams after rolling past Hampden-Sydney on Saturday. Virginia Wesleyan won the ODAC tournament last year and already beat Guilford 71-68 at home. And if you’re looking for a reason to take the field, the Marlins’ Stephen Fields gives you a great reason to do so. He leads the ODAC in scoring with 20.5 points per game.

My two cents: Guilford in the regular season and “the field” in the tournament.

Great Lakes: Who should be more worried about its slow start – John Carroll, Wooster or Hope?

Making this list is a blessing and a curse. It’s an acknowledgment of high expectations, either because of last year’s success (JCU), a talented young roster (Wooster) or a great tradition (Hope). But all three have to improve to meet those expectations. No. 7 John Carroll started 6-0 before losing four of five, including a surprising loss at home to Medaille (whom the Blue Streaks beat by 11 in last year’s NCAA tournament) and a 22-point thumping at the hooves of the Bethany Bison. Worse yet, all four loses are regional and two of them in conference. Wooster also has four loses (including one to John Carroll) but three came to Top 25 teams (add St. Thomas and Randolph-Macon). Winning one of those would’ve been nice for confidence but the Scots are doing fine in conference play at 3-0. Hope is an enigma (sound pretty philosophical, doesn’t it?) unless you have a good handle on the local NAIA teams on the schedule. If Olivet (5-6) could beat NAIA Spring Arbor at home, why didn’t Hope? The Flying Dutch are 7-4 over all with an impressive 22-point win over Wheaton (Ill.) and an early non-conference victory over archrival Calvin. Speaking of which, the Knights and Flying Dutch will meet again to start MIAA play this Wednesday, January 6.

My two cents: John Carroll since the OAC is a tougher road to hoe than the NCAC or the MIAA.

Midwest: Can the Illinois Wesleyan women run the table to the final four?

For the third straight year, the school hosting the women’s final four is also a strong contender to play for a national championship on its own floor. Hope had two cracks and fell one game short at Howard Payne in 2008 and against George Fox at Thomas More in 2009. The Titans had disappointment of their own in the 2009 tournament, seeing their season – undefeated and otherwise – end against Washington U last March. IWU exercised those ghosts in November but, given the importance of geographic proximity in the national tournament and the possibility for the Bears to pick up some loses in UAA play, Wash U. and IWU could meet again this year. IWU has the two main ingredients of recent national champions – a star player who can carry the team (Christina Solari) and a deep roster so she won’t have to do that very often. The biggest obstacle to another perfect regular season is Carthage, which is also undefeated against Division III. Circle the matchups between the Titans and Lady Reds (in Bloomington this Saturday and in Kenosha on January 30th) as the two biggest tests.

My two cents: The Titans can and they will.

West: What are George Fox’s chances to repeat?

George Fox has a strikingly similar poll position this season as it did last season. In January 2009 the Bruins were undefeated but slotted at No. 14. This year they are No. 16 with an 8-2 record and losses to Cal Lutheran (7-2) and NAIA Lewis-Clark State, which is 5-0 against NWC teams. If nothing else, this shows the respect that the pollsters have for the Bruins – 8-2 would have probably left them unranked a season ago. George Fox got off to a great start, defeating Puget Sound 65-62 in overtime on Saturday. The Loggers were picked second in the NWC preseason coaches poll. Two key pieces of last year’s championship, center and defensive anchor Kristen Shielee and national freshman of the year Sage Indendi, are gone. Six-foot-five freshman Hannah Munger is now the Bruins center, replacing Breezy Rinehart-Young in the starting lineup. Munger has 28 blocks in the last six games, which is a good sign. Indendi’s departure puts more pressure on fellow former fab frosh Keisha Gordon who has boosted her scoring output from 12.4 to 15.8 points per game so far. The Bruins aren’t the obvious pick to win the national championship, but they weren’t last year either.

My two cents: The Bruins will miss Shielee’s calming presence but don’t count them out.

Multi: Can a team from a “non-power conference” make a run to the Final Four?

Defining the power conferences in Division III is tough, so let’s use the following very rough rule of thumb – any conference that doesn’t have at least four tournament wins combined in the last three years is a non-power conference. On the women’s side, that kind of run is unlikely. The gap between the top teams in the tournament and the rest often translates into double-digit margins of victory for the former group. And the distribution of the really good teams is pretty even. As for the men, this question presumes the regional approach to bracketing continues. There have been some very surprising results in the middle of the country (Medaille over JCU; Northwestern (Minn.) over St. Norbert). But it’s tough to envision a team from the AMCC, UMAC or NathCON stringing together four consecutive big upsets. But in the East, Atlantic or Mid-Atlantic, it’s another story. Maybe the CSAC, Empire 8, Liberty League or Landmark champion gets hot at the right time and rides that all the way to Salem.

My two cents: Depends on what kind of bracket we get on the men’s side.