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Comeback Falls Short for Randolph Men at Ferrum

Justin Dula about to shoot a basket
Justin Dula scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on Wednesday night.

FERRUM, Va.- Randolph closed a nine-point deficit late in the second half to just one point and nearly sent its game with Ferrum to overtime but ultimately fell to the Panthers 74-72 on Wednesday night. The loss drops Randolph to 6-9 overall and 1-5 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The Panthers improve to 3-12 and 2-4 in the conference.

The two teams played neck and neck in the early portion of the first half. Randolph led 25-23 with 9:35 remaining in the half after a Justin Dula (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central) layup. A 9-0 run by the Panthers staked them to a 32-25 lead with under six minutes remaining. The WildCats closed to a two-possession game, 34-30, with 4:25 left. Ferrum would close out the half on a 9-3 run to hold its biggest lead of the night, 43-33, at the break.

The WildCats slowly chipped away at the Ferrum advantage and broke it down to three points, 49-46, at 13:14. The 'Cats would go on to tie at 51-51 following a three-point basket by Mike Osborne (Floyd, Va./Floyd County) with 11:20 remaining to play. The Panthers started to pull away and built its advantage back up to nine points, 64-55, with 6:37 left.

Ferrum led 71-62 with 2:52 remaining and seemingly had the game in hand. Randolph rallied with an 8-0 run aided by three-point shots by Zach Hinton (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) and Sammy Hooper (Richmond, Va./Midlothian) and trailed 71-70 with 1:06 showing on the clock. Nick Helton sank a pair of free throws with 23 ticks left to make it 73-70. Brian Smith (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) answered for the WildCats with a layup at 16 seconds. A foul on Smith put Rashad Reed at the line for the Panthers. He missed his first but made the second attempt with nine seconds to play. The Wildcats raced down the court to score but Smith missed the potential game-tying basket with one second remaining. Hooper would foul and Reed missed both of his free throws. Dula pulled down the defensive rebound following the second miss but time expired before the WildCats could attempt one final shot.

Hooper matched his output from Saturday's game against Virginia Wesleyan with 22 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists. Dula added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added three assists. Smith tacked on 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Elijah Ford (Chantilly, Va./Chantilly) pulled down nine rebounds.

Ferrum was 17-of-30 (56.7%) in the first half but faltered with just an 8-of-25 (32%) performance in the second half where Randolph had an edge at 14-of-38 (36.8%). The battle at the glass went to Randolph 46-32. The WildCats outscored Ferrum 16-14 in points off turnovers and 16-3 in second chance points.

Randolph returns to the RAD Center to host Guilford this Saturday. Game time will be at 4:30 p.m. following the women's game. The two teams last played a week ago in Greensboro where the Quakers won 70-62.