R-MC tops Alvernia in OT thriller
Yellow Jackets advance to Second Round with 62-59 win
ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. -- Randolph-Macon (25-4) advanced to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament with a 62-59 overtime victory against Alvernia (18-7) Friday evening at the O’Brien ARC Arena on the campus of host St. Mary’s College (Md.).
The Yellow Jackets advance to the second round of the national tournament for the second consecutive year and will face the winner of the Medgar Evers/St. Mary’s (Md.) contest later this evening.
The two squads engaged in a seesaw battle in the opening minutes of the first half before the Crusaders took a 16-12 lead at the 12:09 mark on a short jumper by junior center Cory Boone. From there, the Yellow Jackets ripped off an 11-0 run to assume a 23-16 edge and held the Crusaders scoreless from the field for a span of 9:35.
Junior guard Stefan Thompson snapped the drought with a layup off an inbounds play on the baseline with 2:34 to go to make it 25-19 Randolph-Macon. The Yellow Jackets took a 29-23 lead into the locker room.
Alvernia clawed its way back into it and eventually tied the ballgame up at 38-38 on a triple by senior guard Seth Cornell and a layup by Boone with 13:14 remaining in regulation.
Alvernia’s Christopher Davis was then fouled on a triple try and went to the line for three shots at the 11:21 mark. The freshman guard missed the first two but connected on the third giving the Crusaders their first lead (39-38) since the 11:47 mark of the first stanza (16-15).
This time it was the Yellow Jackets who struggled to find their offensive rhythm, allowing Alvernia to go on a 14-4 run over a span of 7:09 and take a 45-38 lead with 8:05 to go in the half. Boone hit another jumper to make it a seven-point differential, forcing R-MC to call timeout.
The Crusader lead hovered around seven points for the next seven minutes, until the Yellow Jackets mounted an impressive comeback over the final 1:12.
Thompson put back his own miss to give Alvernia a 51-44 lead with 2:33 left. But after several exchanges, R-MC’s Eric Pugh picked off a steal and buried a three-pointer in transition to cut the deficit to 51-47 and the Yellow Jackets called timeout. Boone was whistled for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession and R-MC senior forward Danny Jones cashed in on a layup to draw his team to within two with 31 ticks left.
The Yellow Jackets called another timeout and fouled Boone immediately. The 61 percent free-throw shooter went to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. Boone hit the first but missed the second and Jones nearly lost control of the ball attempting to haul in the rebound for the Yellow Jackets but the officials awarded the ball to Randolph-Macon.
Pugh found Jones on the perimeter and Jones knocked down the clutch trey to tie the game at 52-52 with five seconds left. Despite having timeouts remaining, Alvernia chose to put the ball in Boone’s hands; but the junior center misfired on his long-range attempt at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
The extra session featured three ties and five lead changes. A pair of Brian Nerney free throws gave the Crusaders a 58-57 lead with 2:10 remaining. Pugh misfired on a jumper at the other end for R-MC but senior forward Brandon Braxton was there for the offensive board. His tip-in rimmed out and on the struggle for the rebound, Thompson was fouled by Jones and took a hard fall onto the hardwood. Thompson was forced to leave the game to receive medical attention and freshman forward William Harmon subbed in to shoot the free throws for Thompson.
Harmon, who despite averaging only 8.4 minutes per night coming into the contest, owned an 84.2 free-throw percentage, hitting 16-of-19 from the stripe on the season. Harmon hit the first but missed the second to make it a two-point Alvernia lead with 1:54 left.
Randolph-Macon came down with the defensive rebound but at the other end, Alvernia’s Boone was whistled for his fifth and final foul. Jones connected on both ensuing free throws to tie the score at 59-59 and Alvernia called timeout. Following the timeout, Thompson checked back into the game after sufficiently bandaging his cut lip.
Alvernia turned the ball over following the timeout and sophomore forward Lamar Giggetts laid it in for two to put Randolph-Macon up a pair with 48 seconds left, forcing Alvernia to burn another timeout.
The Crusaders worked the ball around to Thompson whose jumper was off the mark and Pugh snared the rebound and was fouled immediately. Pugh made 1-of-2 from the line to make it 62-59 with 17 seconds left. Thompson grabbed the rebound off the Pugh miss, giving the Crusaders a chance at the game-tying basket.
Alvernia tried to fend off the Yellow Jacket pressure but Cornell’s off-balance three in front of his own bench rimmed out and R-MC escaped with the narrow win.
Jones led four Yellow Jackets in double figures with 14 points off the bench while Pugh finished with 12 and Braxton and junior guard Calvin Croskey chipped in 11 apiece.
Boone led all scorers with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Alvernia while Nerney contributed 13 points in defeat. The Crusaders’ starting five shouldered much of the scoring load on the night, while R-MC got a big lift from its reserves, which outscored the Alvernia bench, 25-6 on the night.
Randolph-Macon, making its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, improves to 10-10 all-time in tournament contests. The Yellow Jackets are also a perfect 6-0 in neutral site games this season.