LYNCHBURG, Va.- For the first time in 2019, the Randolph men's basketball team played at the RAD Center as the WildCats took on Virginia Wesleyan. The 'Cats took an early first half lead but Virginia Wesleyan was able to come back and pull away with an 81-69 victory.
The loss drops Randolph's overall record to 6-8 overall and 1-4 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The Marlins, who snapped their five-game winless streak, improve to 6-8 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
The WildCats took the opening tipoff and got a quick score just four seconds in on a layup by CJ Loving (Madison Heights, Va./Amherst County). The score was knotted at 11-11 with 13:08 showing on the clock when Randolph went on a 10-0 run to go ahead 21-11 at 10:26. The Marlins countered with their own 10-0 run to tie the score at 21-21 with 7:04 remaining in the half. The teams were neck and neck with the 'Cats holding a 25-23 lead with 5:45 remaining. Virginia Wesleyan quickly put up eight straight points to pull ahead 36-28 at the break.
Randolph was able to cut into its deficit in the first two minutes of the second half to four points. The Marlins started to heat up from behind the three-point arc as they drained three baskets to go up 45-36 at 15:51. After Sammy Hooper's (Richmond, Va./Midlothian) layup made it a 45-38 contest, the Marlins used a 15-6 run to break away and lead 60-44 with under 10 minutes to play.
Virginia Wesleyan's double-digit advantage remained until the decision was well in hand. The Marlins' last field goal came with 3:23 remaining as they attempted just one shot the rest of the way. Randolph used a 12-4 run to get to within eight points, 77-69, with 25 ticks left. The Marlins sank four free throws for the game's final points.
Hooper scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while dishing out five assists and coming away with four steals. It was his third double-double performance of the season. Brian Smith (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) added 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Overall shooting favored the visitors by just over 3% (44.8-41.7). The Marlins were 10-of-27 (37%) from behind the three-point line to Randolph's 8-of-26 (30.8%). Free-throw shooting was in Virginia Wesleyan's favor (82.6%-61.1%)
Both teams had 36 rebounds. Points in the paint and points off turnovers were 32-30 and 25-20, respectively, for the WildCats.
Randolph travels to Ferrum on Wednesday. Game time will be at 7:00 p.m.