LYNCHBURG, Va.- The Randolph men's basketball team didn't have to travel far for its cross-city game with Lynchburg on Saturday in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference opener for both teams. The WildCats climbed their way back after falling behind early in the first half but the Hornets recovered with a big second half run to win 60-48.
In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Lynchburg came out strong in the opening minutes of the first half as it went up 11-0 with the teams' first nine points coming via the three point shot. Brian Smith's (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) trey at 15:26 ended the consecutive scoring streak for the Hornets and started a 10-4 run for the 'Cats that brought the score to 15-10 with 9:04 remaining in the half.
Lynchburg cooled down as Randolph was able to fight its way back in. A three from Sammy Hooper Richmond, Va./Midlothian) with 5:07 to play tied the game at 20-20. After tying up the game for the third time following a Justin Dula (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central) jump shot with 49 ticks remaining put the score at 24-24, Smith's layup with time expiring gave Randolph its first lead of the day at 26-24 at halftime.
The WildCats came out fast in the second half with Dula supplying the points early on. A three-point basket by CJ Loving (Madison Heights, Va./Amherst County) followed by a jump shot gave the 'Cats their biggest lead of the afternoon of 35-29 with 16:25 showing on the clock.
The Hornets called time to collect themselves. Coming out, Lynchburg would score five straight points to cut Randolph's lead to 35-34. It would part of a 17-2 run that saw the home team leap ahead 46-37 with 9:50 to play. AJ Marshall's (Lake Mary, Fla./Lake Mary Prep) layup with 7:11 to play was the WildCats' first field goal in over nine minutes of game time.
Despite its scoring drought, the WIldCats were still in position to get back in the game as they would twice make it a two-possession game with the second occurrence coming following a Dula jumper with 2:50 remaining that made the score 54-48. Following a missed Lynchburg layup, the 'Cats looked to make it a one-possession contest. Three-point attempts by Loving and Smith were both off the mark and the Hornets came away with possession. The Hornets would go on to outscore the WildCats 6-0 the rest of the game to seal the victory.
Head coach Pete Hamilton said he was proud how his team regrouped after falling behind early and came together calling it "impressive." Hamilton said he was disappointed his team didn't get the win and that there are details that need to be cleaned up but his team will learn from it.
Dula had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Smith scored 11 points and added eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Hooper and Loving both finished with seven points each.
Overall, Lynchburg out shot Randolph 38.9%-26.7%. The WildCats did not fare well beyond the three point arc with a 4-of-21 performance. At the charity stripe, the WildCats fared better as they were 12-of-15 (80%) compared to 11-of-19 (57.9%) for the Hornets. Randolph won the rebounding battle 46-38.
The Wildcats next travel to Greensboro on Tuesday night. Game time will be at 7:30 p.m.