In The Red Zone: Will We Play In December?

Saturday, January 02, 2016

THE WRAP: Randolph-Macon Toughens Up In Win Over Guilford

After allowing an 11-0 run by Guilford to end the first half down by two rather than up by nine, and being outrebounded by a two-to-one margin, something had to change for the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets Saturday in the second Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) game of the season.

"We gave better effort," senior Lamont Moore said when asked about the second half.

Indeed, they did. Moore scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, and the Yellow Jackets held the Quakers to just eight defensive rebounds, and 12 overall, after intermission, riding 53 percent field goal shooting, and clutch work at the line late, for a 71-68 win to improve to 1-1 in ODAC play, 5-6 overall.

Head Coach Josh Merkel is convinced his young squad, who have now won three straight and four of their last five, is getting better.

"Regardless of the wins and losses, I think defensively now, though I would've like to hold (Guilford) a little under 44 percent (shooting), but certainly (holding them to) 41 percent in the second half, those are the keys for us," Merkel said. "Defensively, being where we need to be; we guarded the arc for the most part. They hit a couple late, but yes, absolutely, we're getting there."

Randolph-Macon went 18-of-22 at the free throw line, an almost 82 percent clip, while Guilford struggled there, shooting just 52 percent. Still, the Quakers had a chance with the ball, down by three with the final shot, but good Yellow Jacket defense forced a desperation trey from beyond the top of the key that clanked off the left side of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

The Yellow Jackets return to Crenshaw Wednesday when arch rival Hampden-Sydney comes to Ashland for a 7pm tip. Moore, and teammates like Mike Silverthorn (14 points) and Michael Taylor (12 points) know the atmosphere surrounding a battle between the Yellow Jackets and Tigers, and notes the new members of Randolph-Macon are in for an experience.

"It'll be an eye-opening experience for them, but I think we prepare for it like we do every other game," Moore explained. "And then, once game time comes, get all the nervousness and jitters out and just go play."

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