ASHLAND, Va. – Senior Joe Hassell (Portsmouth, Va./Indian River) recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds as top-ranked Randolph-Macon extended its win streak to 25 games in a 64-57 victory over St. John Fisher Friday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 1,300 to advance to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament Sectional Finals.
The Yellow Jackets (28-2) will face fellow ODAC member Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday, March 14 at 7 pm in Crenshaw Gymnasium. The winner advances to the NCAA Division III Final Four in Salem, Va. It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two programs. R-MC has won the first three encounters, 55-47 in Virginia Beach on Dec. 1, 69-66 on Jan. 21 in Ashland and 81-74 in overtime in the championship game of the ODAC Tournament in Salem on March 1.
As close as the game was, R-MC never trailed in the contest. The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and built a 9-3 advantage before the Cardinals (25-5) scored six straight to knot the score at 9-9 six minutes into the contest. R-MC extended the lead to five several times and SJFC cut it to one multiple times before the Yellow Jackets took a 29-26 edge at the break. Hassell was halfway to his double-double with 10 points and five boards in the first period. Senior Chris Hamilton (Bellbrook, Ohio/Bellbrook) went 3 for 3 from behind the arc for nine first-half points.
SJFC again cut it to one at 31-30 before R-MC used a 12-4 spurt to take a 43-34 lead with 14:30 remaining. Hassell hit four straight free throws midway through the period as the Yellow Jackets took their largest lead at 54-43 with 8:50 left. The Cardinals put together a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to three at 55-52 with just under three minutes to go. Senior Akeem Holmes (King William, Va./King William) hit a hook shot in the lane, senior Marcus Badger (Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Plymouth-Whitemarsh) hit a jumper and junior Lamont Moore (Waverly, Va./Tidewater Academy) added an exclamation point with a dunk as the lead grew back to nine at 61-52 with 47 seconds remaining. The Yellow Jackets scored their final three points from the free throw line in posting the 64-57 victory.
Hamilton finished with 10 points, while Badger added 10 points and dished out four assists. Senior Trent Walker (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) had three points and registered four steals. Sophomore Michael Taylor (Apex, N.C./Grace Christian) had three points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, including five offensive boards.
Tyler Hart led the Cardinals with 21 points.