VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- DJ Woodmore was a consistent offensive threat throughout Saturday's NCAA second round game against No. 10 Wesleyan at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.
Virginia Wesleyan's Woodmore, an All-American senior, scored 28 points to lead the Marlins to a thrilling 79-74 victory against the Wolverines, but he shared the spotlight with teammates who came up with big plays when they counted the most.
Their efforts helped Virginia Wesleyan to a win that sends the Marlins to the Round of 16 for the third time in the past four seasons.
Sophomore Sedric Nady stunned the Wolverines (23-4) with some clutch shooting in the final eight minutes of the game, to help keep the lead with the Marlins to the end. He nailed his first shot of the contest at the 8:19 mark, giving VWC a 58-56 lead after Wesley took its first lead t 56-54 on a Brandin Youngblood triple.
Nady hit three consecutive triples in the closing minutes en route to scoring all 13 of points down the stretch. His third trey from the right of the key brought a roar from the near-capacity crowd as it gave Virginia Wesleyan a 73-63 advantage with 3:46 remaining to be played.
Wesley, which finished No. 1 in the regular-season standings of the Capital Athletic Conference, rode the scoring of Wayne Lennon to cut the gap to six points in the next 27 seconds. But, Virginia Wesleyan, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference champion, once again came through with the crowd-pleasing play when junior Greg Montgomery beat the defense down the middle and dunk the ball off an assist from Woodmore.
A pair of Nady free throws gave VWC a 77-68 lead, before Wesley rallied one more time. Six-foot-8 David Langan, Youngblood, and Lennon combined to score six consecutive points, including four off of Marlin turnovers, to pull within a 77-74 score with 1:56 on the clock.
Both teams missed shots in the closing seconds, including a layup by Wesley with just 20 seconds on the clock. Woodmore pulled in the rebound and the Marlins started to work time off the clock before a Wesley foul sent senior Aaron Clark to the free throw line with 16 seconds remaining. He hit two big free throws to virtually ice the win for VWC.
Clark also nailed a triple early in the first half that gave Virginia Wesleyan an 11-7 lead. Senior Colby Heard, Montgomery, and Woodmore all followed with key scores, Woodmore's including a dunk, as Virginia Wesleyan opened up a 28-19 lead with 6:38 remaining before halftime.
The Wolverines pulled within six points several times before the break, but Virginia Wesleyan never let it get closer. Triples by Woodmore and Clark helped give the Marlins a 39-29 lead at halftime.
Virginia Wesleyan opened up its largest lead at 41-29 in the second half, but Wesley's talented squad never let it slip out of hand. Quincy Pettiford, Eric Selby, Lennon, and Langan sparked the Wolverines to finally take the lead at 53-52 with 9:51 showing, but there was never a run that carried Wesley out of trouble.
Wesley was limited to 39.7 percent shooting from the floor, with some of their misses caused by the outstanding inside play of VWC's Trent Batson. He blocked a career-high seven shots.
Virginia Wesleyan hit 44.1 percent from the floor, led by Woodmore's 10-of-14 showing. He also hit 3-of-3 triple, 5-of-5 free throws, pulled down six rebounds, and recorded two assists and a steal. Nady hit 3-of-6 treys and 4-of-4 free throws in his 13 points, and Montgomery nailed 4-of-7 shots and scored 11 points. Clark finished with 10 points, including two triples
VWC won the battle of the boards 43-35, led by junior Cameron Owens and Montgomery with seven rebounds each. The Marlins aslo recorded 16 assists, led by rookie Khory Moore with five.
Lennon led Wesley with 20 points, followed by Langan with 17, Pettiford with 12, Youngblood with 11, and Selby with 10. Lennon connected on 8-of-12 shots, including 3-of-5 triples. He also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Langan finished with 10 rebounds.