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Tiger Hoops Explodes in Second-Half For 79-70 Win at Lynchburg

Mike Murray
Mike Murray

LYNCHBURG, VA - After being down by as many as 12 in the first half, Hampden-Sydney Basketball took control of the second half to win 79-70 at Lynchburg College in ODAC action on Wednesday night.

With the game tied at 2-2 less than two minutes in to the contest, five points from Brandan Connor and two free throws from Michael Wims gave the Hornets a 9-2 lead at the 16:47 mark to force a Hampden-Sydney timeout. Mike Murray (Norfolk, VA / Norfolk Christian) drained a three-pointer out of the TO, but LC scored six of the next eight to go up 15-7 just over five minutes in.

However, Hampden-Sydney responded with their own 6-2 run to cut the deficit to four, 17-13, over the next three minutes, leading to a Lynchburg timeout. Lynchburg came out of the timeout strong as Wims drained a trifecta and after an Austin Chillemi block led to a Chillemi layup to give Lynchburg a nine-point lead. A Khobi Williamson (Norfolk, VA / Maury) dunk followed up by two Greg Lewis (Mechanicsville, VA / Hanover) makes from the foul line cut the deficit down to 22-17 with eight minutes left but two consecutive Gary Boone baskets and an Austen Arnold three pointer gave Lynchburg it's biggest lead of the game, 29-17, with 6:23 left in the half.

Lewis and and Harrison George (Raleigh, NC / Leesville Road) helped start a key run to end the half by making back-to-back jumpers to make it 29-21 at 4:35. The Hornets missed a three-pointer on each of their next two possessions, but the Tigers weren't able to capitalize on their offensive end. Wims then made another jump shot to put it back to a double-digit lead with 3:08 to go, but that would prove to be Lynchburg's last points prior to intermission as the Tiger defense clamped down.

Lewis made two attempts at the charity stripe at 1:17 and Keegan Wetzel (Mebane, NC / Eastern Alamance) stole the ball from Wims and was fouled in the backcourt in the bonus by Xavier Parham to prevent a fastbreak opportunity. Wetzel missed the front end of the one-and-one, but George stole the ball from Parham which led to a fastbreak dunk to cut the deficit down to 31-25 with 46 ticks left on the clock. Wetzel then drew a charge on Wims and Williamson made a layup with 19 seconds to go to put the Tigers down just four. Lynchburg's Brandan Connor then ended the half with a missed layup to send the game into intermission with a 31-27 Lynchburg advantage.

The offensive woes from Saturday looked to be rearing their ugly head again in the first 20 minutes of action as H-SC shot just 35.5% overall and 11.1% from the three-point line.

Early on in the second half, the momentum didn't seem to carry over from a strong first-half Tiger finish. Manny Hernandez drained a three-pointer just 11 seconds in, but Lewis answered with a triple of his own. Following a missed H-SC layup, Hernandez then converted a layup and the and-one free throw, an H-SC turnover resulted in an easy Chillemi layup, and one more Hernandez free throw put the Hornets back up by double digits, 40-30, with 16:43 left in the contest.

Despite seemingly having momentum all on the side of the host team, Hampden-Sydney then made their charge to get back in the game. Cam Anderson (Charlottesville, VA / Blue Ridge) corralled an offensive rebound, made a layup, got fouled by Wims, and then made the free throw. Murray then stole the ball from Alex Graves and made a crafty layup to make it a 40-35 game. Lynchburg missed their next five field goal attempts and turned over the ball once. Following a George steal at 14:40, he was fouled on a fastbreak layup and made one of two free throws. Alex Smith (Whitsett, NC / T. Wingate Andrews) took the ball from Graves and fed a streaking Wetzel for a fastbreak layup, and a difficult up and under layup from George tied the game at 40-40 with 13:57 left. George was fouled on the layup and went to the charity stripe to give the Tigers their first lead of the game but missed the attempt.

Gary Boone and Wims provided a temporary relief for Lynchburg by making three of four free throws to go up 43-40 with 12:57 left. But Anderson came down the court and scored a layup off a postup spin move. Chillemi fouled him on the shot and Anderson stepped up to the line to tie the game again. Chillemi was sent to the foul line in the bonus on LC's next possession. He missed the first, but Lynchburg got the rebound. George then stole the ball from Chillemi and made a foul line jumper to give the Tigers their first lead of the contest, 45-43, with 12:02 remaining.

H-SC continued to build on the lead behind stifling defense and efficient offense. Leon Hargrove (Raleigh, NC / Middle Creek), playing through a minor injury, scored on a layup and Murray buried a wing three pointer to push the Tiger advantage to 50-43 at the 9:28 mark. Parham ended the near four-minute Hornet scoring drought with a two-point jumper, but a Lewis three and four straight Williamson makes at the foul line gave the Tigers a 12-point lead, 57-45, with 7:13 to go.

Lynchburg continued to fight to stay in the game as two Chillemi free throws and a Connor three cut down their deficit to seven, but the freshman in Murray scored five of the game's next six points behind a triple and two freebies. Following a Williamson steal, Wetzel converted a difficult 2-on-1 layup at 4:45. H-SC got a defensive stop but turned over the ball on the inbounds pass that led to a wide open Wims dunk. But George came down and drained a big trifecta, and four straight points from Williamson gave H-SC a game-high 18-point advantage, 71-53, with just 1:44 left in the game.

However, the Hornets refused to go away and caught fire from three point range, making five in less than two minutes to keep things interesting, but Hampden-Sydney made eight of their 12 free throw attempts down the stretch to close out the game.

After struggling from the field in the first half, Hampden-Sydney started making shots like the Tigers have been accustomed to most of the season, making 55.6% of all attempts in the second half while also going 71.4% from the three point line and 73.9% from the foul line. The defense was even better in the second half as well, limiting Lynchburg to just 31.6% overall shooting after intermission.

Murray posted a team-high 15 points, going 4-7 overall, 3-4 from three, and 4-4 on free throws along with four rebounds. Williamson contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Lewis added on 13 points, making two three points while going 5-6 from the charity stripe. George tacked on 12 points, nine caroms, and four steals while Anderson contributed 12 points and five boards. Wetzel tallied six points, five assists, and one block.

Wims led Lynchburg with a game-high 19 points, shooting 7-12 from the field ad 4-7 from three along with six rebounds. Chillemi posted 10 points and five blocks, and Parham contributed six points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals but shot just 2-9 overall, 1-5 from three, and 1-3 on freebies. Manny Hernandez, the Hornets leading scorer, was limited to nine points while shooting just 3-10 from the floor and 1-5 from three.

H-SC shot 26-58 (44.8%) overall, 6-16 (37.5%) from three range, and 21-28 (75%) from the free throw line. LC went 24-67 (35.8%) from the field, 10-32 (31.2%) from three, and 12-19 (63.2%) on free throws. Hampden-Sydney held a 30-18 advantage in points in the paint and a 31-18 edge in bench points.

Hampden-Sydney will host Washington & Lee University on Saturday at 2 pm.

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