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Tigers fall 69-65 to nationally-ranked Marlins

Tigers junior captain Jake Hahn and freshman Ryan Clements each scored 18 points, but Hampden-Sydney College’s (H-SC) men’s basketball team dropped a 69-65 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) game to No. 13 Virginia Wesleyan University Wednesday night, Feb. 12, at S. Douglas Fleet Gymnasium.

Senior Chaise Johnson added 16 points for the host Tigers (13-9, 8-5), who trailed just 26-24 at halftime. Corey Pelham scored a game-high 27 points for the visiting Marlins (19-3, 11-2), who won their fifth-straight game, though it was a closely played contest with seven lead changes and six ties.

“Proud of our effort tonight,” first-year Tigers Head Coach Caleb Kimbrough said. “We wanted to win the rebounding battle, and we were able to do just that. Turnovers and free throws were what really hurt us. We are moving in the right direction, just can’t have that many lapses against a team like that to get it done.”

H-SC took an early lead at 9-5 just 3:49 into the contest as Hahn scored six straight points before a 3-point field goal by freshman Chase Turner. Virginia Wesleyan used a quick 9-3 run to lead 14-12 at 9:12, the last six points coming from Tim Fisher.

The Marlins extended the lead to 24-16 with 3:59 left in the half. The last six points in that run came from Pelham, including a rare four-point play when he was fouled on a 3-pointer and added the free throw. The Tigers, however, battled back and outscored the visitors 8-2 to close to within two at the intermission as Clements scored on a layup ahead of the first-half buzzer.

Hampden-Sydney opened the second half with six straight points, extending its run to 14-2 for a 30-26 advantage at the 18:10 mark. The Tigers gained four points from Clements and a basket from Hahn. H-SC still led 36-32 after a jumper by Hahn with 14:10 on the clock, but the Marlins responded with nine unanswered points to go back ahead 46-37 at 10:47, getting seven more points from Pelham.

The Marlins maintained their lead and were in front 61-48 with just 3:10 remaining. H-SC, though, made one last valiant effort and was able to close the margin to three points on two occasions during the final minute — 63-60 with 24.4 seconds left and 65-62 with 17.4 seconds remaining.

But Virginia Wesleyan secured the outcome by going 8-for-8 from the foul line over the final 44 seconds. Clements made a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.

Hahn and Clements led H-SC with their respective 18 points each, with Clements adding seven rebounds and Hahn adding six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Johnson finished with his 16 points for the Tigers. Senior captain Kevin Quinn contributed a career-high and game-high 11 rebounds.

H-SC shot 51% (23-for-45) from the field, including 44% (4-for-9) on three-pointers and 63% (15-for-24) at the free-throw line. The Tigers outrebounded the Marlins 39-23 and enjoyed a 36-22 advantage in points scored in the paint.

Pelham led Virginia Wesleyan with his game-high 27 points, including four 3-pointers and going 11-for-12 on free throws. Fisher finished with 19 points and six rebounds for the Marlins, while Jordan White added 10 points.

Virginia Wesleyan shot 40% (21-for-53) from the field, including 29% (8-for-28) on 3-pointers and 86% (19-for-22) at the line. The Marlins had a 25-14 advantage in points scored off turnovers.

H-SC will play on the road at ODAC opponent Guilford College Saturday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. in Greensboro, North Carolina.