VWC's strong finish falls short as Roanoke holds on for the upset

D.J. Woodmore
D.J. Woodmore

SALEM, Va. -- Virginia Wesleyan College's men's basketball team either left its defensive game at home in Virginia Beach, or lost it somewhere on the trip to Roanoke College.

It definitely wasn't with the Marlins on Saturday at Roanoke's Bast Center, where Virginia Wesleyan surrendered its highest point total of the season in a non-overtime contest, falling 84-79 to the host Maroons.  The University of Mary Washington scored a season-high 95 on the Marlins, accomplishing that in double overtime in December.

The upset, which dropped the Marlins to 17-6 overall and to 10-4 in the ODAC, put a dent in VWC's recent No. 3 ranking in the South Region.  Three ODAC teams are in the region's top eight and all three have lost since the rankings were released last week.

It was a loss that also overshadowed an impressive effort by seniorD.J. Woodmore (Virginia Beach/Landstown), who scored 21 second half points en route to a game-high 28.  He also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, recorded two blocks and two steals, and dished out one assist.

VWC never led as Roanoke (11-10, 5-8) jumped out to an 8-2 lead  on the scoring of Daniel Eacho (North Chesterfield/Monacan) and Julian Ramirez (Palmyra/Fork Union). The Maroons pushed out to a 34-23 lead with 3:16 remaining in the first half, and entered the halftime break with a 38-30 advantage.

Scoring by senior Aaron Clark (Virginia Beach/Tallwood), rookie Khory Moore (Arlington/Wakefield), and Woodmore helped pull the Marlins within a 49-43 score with 15:22 remaining in the game.  VWC had the chance to cut deeper into the lead in the next three minutes, but could not get shots to drop, going 0-for-5 in a span that also saw the Maroons remain scoreless.

Stefan Vulevic (Montenegro/Roanoke Catholic) hit a free throw to restart the scoring however, and Roanoke pushed back out to an 11 point advantage.  A triple by Woodmore pulled VWC within six points again with 11:03 on the clock, but Roanoke answered with a 14-3 run to open up a 69-52 lead with 7:15 remaining.

Roanoke led 79-66 with only 3:33 on the clock, when VWC ignited a strong finish that ran out of time.  The Marlins outscored Roanoke 13-5 in those final minutes led by Woodmore with seven points.

The victory was Roanoke's first over Virginia Wesleyan since 2007, snapping a streak of nine straight VWC victories in the series.  Virginia Wesleyan has won 15 of the last 17 games played against Roanoke.

In addition to Woodmore's 28 points, senior Colby Heard (Virginia Beach/Tallwood) tallied 13 points for the Marlins, and Clark finished with 10.  Moore tallied nine.

Andrew Daniels (Fairfax/Oakton) led Roanoke with 22 points, Eacho finished with 18, Ramirez scored 13, and John Fitchett tallied 10. 

Virginia Wesleyan, which entered the game as one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, struggled from behind the arc.  The Marlins put up 39 triple attempts, but hit on only six. Roanoke hit 5-of-13, but helped its cause by connecting on 25-of-35 free throw attempts.  VWC hit 14-of-19 freebies.

Virginia Wesleyan closes the home portion of the regular-season schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 19, hosting Shenandoah University in conference play at 8 p.m.