FORT WAYNE, Ind. --- Randolph-Macon College is a national champion for the first time in school history as the Yellow Jackets men's basketball team lifted the NCAA Division III trophy following a 75-45 triumph over Elmhurst College on Saturday at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Yellow Jackets (33-1) completed a nearly unblemished season in achieving a school-record 33 victories on the way to becoming the second team in ODAC history to don the Division III men's basketball crown. R-MC joins Virginia Wesleyan University (then Virginia Wesleyan College) with national trophies with the Marlins hoisting their walnut & bronze prize in 2006. Randolph-Macon is now 24-16 (.600) in the D-III tournament following a 6-0 run through this year's bracket.
Randolph-Macon, ranked #1 in the country by D3hoops.com for 10 of the 13 weeks the outlet published its top-25 poll, ends the most successful season in program history on a program-record 27-game winning streak. R-MC has won 50 of its past 51 games and is now 100-7 over the past four seasons. The Yellow Jackets have also been victorious 48 straight games in the friendly confines of Crenshaw Gymnasium.
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Randolph-Macon's suffocating defense was again the story. The Yellow Jackets held Elmhurst to just 17-of-62 shooting (27.4%) from the field including a devastating 3-for-23 (13.0%) from three-point range. Conversely, Randolph-Macon shot 27-of-57 (47.4%) from the field and drilled 8-of-23 (34.8%) from deep.
Playmaking guard Josh Talbert led all players and four Yellow Jackets in double figures with 15 points. He added 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a blocked shot to his line. Buzz Anthony, the ODAC's only four-time player of the year in conference history, added 14 points with five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Miles Mallory and Daniel Mbangue each tallied 10 markers with Mallory adding nine boards and three blocked shots. Mbangue pulled down four rebounds with two assists, three steals, and a blocked shot.
Lavon Thomas was the only Blue Jay in double figures with 10 points to go with a team-best eight rebounds. Jake Rhode, who scored a season-high 32 points in Elmhurst's semifinal victory (90-68) over Wabash College, was held to nine points on 3-of-13 shooting. Ocean Johnson chipped in seven points and six boards. Wesley Hooker had six markers and six rebounds.
The early going was tight on Saturday evening in Fort Wayne with Elmhurst (27-7) and Randolph-Macon both finding points hard to come by. R-MC maintained a tight edge that was shaved to just one point at 9-8 wiht 13:57 on the first-half clock. A mini 6-0 run put the Yellow Jackets ahead, 15-8, with 11:33 on the board, but the Blue Jays charged back with a 10-2 streak that saw them take their first and only lead of the game at 18-17 with 8:00 on the clock.
Elmhurst's advantage would last only 14-seconds as Randolph-Macon closed the half with a 21-5 run to own a 15-point lead at the intermission.
R-MC's lead hovered between 14 and 17 points for the first 10 minutes of the second stanza. Both teams traded buckets and solid defensive play before the Yellow Jackets broke through to go ahead by 19 at 57-38 with 9:45 to play. Randolph-Macon increased its lead to 64-40 over the next three-plus minutes and pushed their advantage to 25 points at 67-42 at the final media timeout.
Both teams made substitutions thereafter, with Randolph-Macon carving out its 30-point victory by the final horn.
- Buzz Anthony, Randolph-Macon College (MOP)
- Miles Mallory, Randolph-Macon College
- Jake Rhode, Elmhurst College
- Lukas Islay, Marietta College
- Jack Davidson, Wabash College