Harrisonburg, Va.- The Randolph men's basketball team returned to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon as they traveled to Eastern Mennonite. The Royals held a double-digit lead at halftime and the WildCats rallied but ultimately fell short in an 83-62 loss.
The defeat drops the 'Cats to 4-13 overall and 1-7 in the ODAC. EMU is 7-9 and 2-6 in the conference.
Randolph led 3-2 one and a half minutes into the first half but the Royals tallied five straight points to go ahead 10-3. A 6-3 run by the WildCats, with all points coming from Sammy Hooper (Richmond, Va./Midlothian), cut the deficit to two, 13-11, at 13:01. An 8-0 Eastern Mennonite run expanded its lead to 21-11. The WildCats were able to close to 23-16 with 7:27 remaining in the half but a 12-2 EMU run expanded its lead to 35-18 with 2:12 to go until halftime. Eastern Mennonite would take a 36-22 lead into the locker room.
After the break, EMU's Maleke Jones drained a three to increase the Royals' advantage to 39-22. Brian Smith (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) countered for Randoloh with a trey of his own to bring the lead back down to 14. That basket was part of a 13-4 run for the 'Cats that saw them cut their deficit to 10 points, 45-35, at the 13:30 mark and give them new life.
It was a 13-point game at 8:21 and a Chase VanHorn (Forest, Va./Jefferson Forest) three made it a 12-point contest, 62-50, with just over eight minutes remaining. That would be as close as Randolph would get as Eastern Mennonite expanded its lead and held the WildCats at bay for the remainder of the game.
Ryan Fields (Edgewood, Md./Loyola Blakefield) was the only Randolph player to reach double figures as he finished with 10 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Hooper and Smith both scored eight points each. Reid Jacoby (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) tallied nine points, five assists, and four rebounds. Drew Hayden (Vinton, Va./William Byrd) scored seven points and pulled down six rebounds off the bench for the WildCats.
"Drew Hayden was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing day," said head coach Pete Hamilton afterwards. "We decided to put him in the first group to start the 2nd half and he seized the opportunity playing 14 minutes, grabbing 6 boards, and scoring five points all in the second half. He has had to battle some injuries this season and has struggled to find his role and rhythm in the rotation. Hopefully tonight can help us with that moving forward."
The WildCats return to the Rad Center on Wednesday as they host first place Emory and Henry. Tip off will be at 7:00 p.m.