Mason Watkins ’15
The postseason run for the Hampden-Sydney Basketball Team consisted of reaching the ODAC semifinals and putting on a strong, yet heartbreaking, performance in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The first game, which took place on Friday, February 22, saw the Tigers travel to Salem, VA to face Roanoke College in the ODAC quarterfinals. The Maroons were seeded 10th going into the tournament and the Tigers 2nd. Early on in the game the contest looked to be a heated one as both teams were fighting to keep a lead. Following junior Khobi Williamson’s three-point play, freshman Mike Murray scored a jumper with two seconds left on the clock, giving Hampden-Sydney a 35-28 lead at the half. There must have been a powerful halftime speech by Coach Dee Vick because the Tigers came out of the break a different team. The lead stayed on their side the entire half and a 14-0 run sealed the game. Scoring from the bench proved to be a major difference between the two teams as Roanoke’s bench scored a meager 12 points compared to Hampden-Sydney’s 46. With a massive 23 point difference, the Tigers beat the Maroons 72-49.
The following day, the team faced rival Randolph-Macon in the ODAC semifinals. The lead switched between the two teams in the first half multiple times. The Yellow Jackets held a six point lead with about two minutes remaining in the first half. Williamson and sophomore Cam Anderson combined for a quick eight points to give the Tigers a two point lead at halftime. Randolph-Macon managed to score 10 unanswered points midway through the second half and never looked back. 16 points from Williamson and 15 from senior Harrison George proved to not be enough as the Yellow Jackets eventually won 64-59. Both teams showed a strong defensive effort as they both shot under 40% from the field. The loss knocked Hampden-Sydney out of the ODAC Tournament while Randolph-Macon went on to defeat Virginia Wesleyan in the tournament final, claiming their 2nd title in three years.
Harrison George graduates as the fifth-leading scorer in H-SC Bball History
Despite the loss, Hampden-Sydney basketball not only earned a spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament, but were chosen to host a first round game. The Tigers hosted Cabrini College, a small Catholic college in the Philadelphia area, in the first round of NCAA Tournament action on Saturday, March 2. The entire game was as intense as they come, with the Hampden-Sydney home crowd roaring. The score was back and forth throughout the entire game, besides Cabrini’s 14-0 run midway through the first half. Directly following the halftime break, the Tigers scored back-to-back two pointers to grab a mere 43-42 lead. With a little under two minutes remaining in the game, the Cavaliers led 79-71. George and sophomore Greg Lewis managed to sink their free throws and cut the difference to 79-78. 42 seconds remained on the clock and neither team could score any points. A Cabrini free throw proved to be the final bucket of the night as they beat Hampden-Sydney 80-78 following a missed three-pointer by Lewis with a few seconds left. Offense was the name of the game as both teams shot roughly 50%.
With the season officially over for the Tigers, the post-season accolades have started rolling in for outgoing senior star Harrison George. In the past week, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) chose George for the D3Hoops.com Second Team All-South Region as well as the Second Team All-South District, respectively.
Despite being knocked out of both tournaments, the Hampden-Sydney Basketball Team delivered an impressive season. Not only was there overall record 23-5, but they also went 14-2 in ODAC play and were co-regular season champs with Virginia Wesleyan. The students, faculty, and coaches are all proud of the team and can’t wait to see another impressive performance next season when the Tigers return four of their top five scorers.