LYNCHBURG, Va.- Sammy Hooper's (Richmond, Va./Midlothian) 29 points led all scorers and Randolph fended off a late William Peace rally as the WildCats held on for a 72-71 win Monday night at the RAD Center. The win puts Randolph's record at 2-8 while the Pacers drop to 2-6.
Hooper's 29 was a season and career-best. He also added 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. He shot 10-of-24 overall and 6-of-15 from beyond the three-point arc. His 15 three-point attempts are a new Randolph game record and his six three-point baskets ties the Randolph record that had been set six times and most recently done by Seth Wimbish in January of 2015.
"Heck of a night for Sammy," said head coach Pete Hamilton. "We talk a lot as a team about playing our roles and understanding our teammates roles. All of our guys know that Sammy can get it going at any time and he did just that tonight in stretches. I think he's taken some huge steps in other areas that showed tonight as well. He had 10 rebounds and only 2 turnovers while continuing to give us another poised voice on the court. When Sammy came over to our program, we talked about the process of finding a role and buying into another college program's culture. He's done a heck of a job in all of those areas for us so far."
Colton Lee (Raleigh, N.C./North Raleigh Christian Academy) and Brian Smith (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) both added nine points each for the WildCats. Justin Dula (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central) pulled down nine rebounds while chipping in six points. Elijah Ford (Chantilly, Va./Chantilly) was also a force on the glass with seven boards.
"How about Justin Dula and Elijah Ford?" asked Hamilton. "Those two guys have embraced the challenges of playing physical, more seasoned players and did it with a chip in their shoulders. Elijah getting seven rebounds and Justin getting nine was huge for us tonight. Colton Lee did what Colton does and hit some timely 3's when you couldn't tell which way the game was going to go. He's a weapon every time he steps out there and our guys do a great job of using him."
With the score knotted at 10-10 four minutes into the game, Randolph would go on a 11-0 run to go ahead 21-10 with 11:39 left. William Peace cut the deficit to six points, 21-15, at the 10:18 mark but a 6-0 run by the 'Cats increased their advantage to 27-15 with 7:20 remaining in the half. Randolph would go into the locker room ahead 38-29.
In the second half, Randolph saw its double-digit advantage trimmed to six points, 44-38, at 17:11. The lead was knocked down to four points, 51-47, with 11;48 left in the game. The Pacers were able to get to 58-56 at the 7:09 mark. The WildCats stayed ahead but the Pacers were nipping at their heels.
The WildCat lead stood at 67-58 with 3:22 showing on the game clock. William Peace's 8-2 run moved the score to 69-66 with just over a minute to play. It was still a three-point game, 71-68, with just five seconds left. The Pacers fouled Hooper to put him on the line. Hooper made the second of his two free throws to give Randolph a 72-68 lead. The Pacers quickly inbounded and Mikal Gaylord launched a three just as time expired but it was too late as Randolph was able to come away with the win.
Randolph was outshot by William Peace on the night and outrebounded 46-43. The difference came in turnovers as the Pride had 23 miscues. The WildCats outscored the Pride on second chance points 16-8 and controlled the paint 24-20.
"I'm proud of our guys for the response we had as a unit to multiple challenges throughout the night," stated Hamilton. We had guys step up and take charge of themselves and their teammates whether that was by example or by voice throughout the game. Our attention to detail has continued to improve over the past two weeks and I'm happy our guys are seeing that pay off."
The WildCats will be idle until December 29 when they travel to Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania to participate in the Spounagle Tournament. Game time between Randolph and F&M will be at 7:30 p.m.