LYNCHBURG, Va.- The 2018-19 season started for the Randolph men's basketball team as they hosted St. Mary's of Maryland on Saturday afternoon. The WildCats built up an early first half lead on their way to a 77-69 victory.
The Seahawks led 14—9 with just over 16 minutes to play in the first half. An 11-3 Randolph run put the home team ahead 20-17 with 13:24 showing on the game clock. St. Mary's would rally to tie the game up at 24-all at 11:31and used a brief 4-0 run to take a 30-26 lead with less than eight minutes remaining in the half.
Randolph came fighting back tie the game on back to back layups by Jerry Goodman. St. Mary's got the lead back at 32-30 but a three-point basket by CJ Loving restored the advantage to the WildCats 33-32 at 5:44. After an Elijah Ford layup broke a 33-33 tie, it would start a 10-0 for the 'Cats to up its lead to 43-33 and Randolph would hold on to its 10 point lead at the break.
Randolph kept its double-digit advantage for over five minutes of game time. The Seahawks came roaring back as they mounted an 11-0 run to make it a single possession game, 55-52 at 13:07.
It was 58-55 with just under 12 minutes remaining. Sammy Hooper was fouled as he made a layup and the subsequent free throw gave Randolph a 61-55 advantage. Brian Smith's three pointer got the 'Cats to 64-55 at 9:05. St. Mary's would not go down quietly as they twice cut Randolph's lead to two points with the last time happening at 5:32. Smith answered with another trey that was part of an 8-2 run as Randolph kept St. Mary's off of the scoreboard for the final four minutes. The Seahawks went 0-for-6 in field goals in that stretch.
"I'm really proud of our guys because we held onto the rope and took care of the ball at the end, executed at the end, and kept our composure which we struggled with last year," said head coach Pete Hamilton afterwards. "We finished the first half well and finished the game really well."
Hooper led the way for the WildCats with 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting. He was 5-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc. He also added 10 rebounds. Smith scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half as he was 5-for-11 from the field and 4-for-8 in three –point shots. He also contributed four assists and three steals.
Ford scored nine points and added four rebounds while blocking a career-best four shots. It was the most blocks in a game since Derrick Woods-Morrow last did it in 2011. Dula chipped in eight points while Mike Osborne added seven points in 15 minutes off of the bench.
Just .06% separated the two teams in overall field goal percentage with Randolph holding the edge 46.9%-46.2%. The WildCats were 11-of-26 from behind the three-point arc compared to 4-of-12 for St. Mary's.
Both teams had 34 rebounds. The WIldCats outscored the Seahawks 22-15 off of turnovers.
Hamilton noted how his defense played and how the team leaned on it when they needed to. Going forward he said the confidence gained from today's game can carry over to the WildCat's upcoming road trip.
Randolph travels to William Peace next Wednesday for its next game. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.