Jackets’ journey to the NCAA tourney

Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Though they earned their bids differently, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Randolph-Macon College will begin play in the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament Friday. Here’s a complete look at how they got there and who they will face in the first round.

Friday will mark Women’s Head Coach Carroll LaHaye’s ninth trip to the NCAA tournament and the team’s first appearance since 2011.

Friday will mark Women’s Head Coach Carroll LaHaye’s ninth trip to the NCAA tournament and the team’s first appearance since 2011.

A year ago, women’s team head coach, Carroll LaHaye, and her Yellow Jackets were pondering what went wrong after concluding a 6-21 season. Now, they’re preparing for Messiah College.

The Lady Jackets captured their eighth ODAC Tournament Championship Sunday with a 91-84 win over Guilford at the Salem Civic Center. Tournament MVP Katie Anderson (Patrick Henry) scored 16 of her 21 points in the first half and grabbed eight rebounds.

Taylor Huber (Patrick Henry) scored all 13 of her points after intermission, overcoming early foul trouble. Sarah Parsons (J.R. Tucker) added 14 for Randolph-Macon, which improved to 23-5 with the win. The Jackets advanced to the ODAC finals with wins over Bridgewater in the quarterfinals, and Lynchburg in the semis Saturday, 84-69.

Huber and Parsons joined Anderson on the All-ODAC Tournament team.

This is LaHaye’s ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Jackets were national runners-up in 2005 and have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen on four occasions, the last coming in 2007. It is Randolph-Macon’s first NCAA appearance since 2011.

They will travel to Madison, N.J. to play in a four-team pod hosted by Farleigh Dickinson University at Florham. Their opponent, the Messiah College Falcons, are champions of the Commonwealth Conference after defeating Lebanon Valley in their tournament final.

Messiah is located just west of Harrisburg, Pa. The Falcons are 20-7 this season and present a balanced scoring attack, as Chelsea Danel, Gillian Glackin, and Taylor Miller all average between 11 and 12 points per game.

The Falcons’ defense gives up just 54.1 points per game. They’ll face a Jackets team ranked third in Division III nationwide in scoring at 88.3 points per game. The teams do not have any common opponents this season.

Tip time for the game in New Jersey is 5 p.m. Friday. Host FDU-Florham, one of three unbeaten teams in the tournament at 27-0, will play Wells College in the nightcap. If the Jackets are victorious Friday, they’ll play the winner of the other game on Saturday at 5 p.m. for a chance to punch a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.

Men’s Head Coach Nathan Davis faces the prospect of becoming the college’s all-time winningest coach in the NCAA Tournament with a win Friday.

Men’s Head Coach Nathan Davis faces the prospect of becoming the college’s all-time winningest coach in the NCAA Tournament with a win Friday.

After a regular season ODAC championship, playing many times in dominant fashion, the Yellow Jacket men had a short and painful experience in Salem this season, eliminated in the quarterfinals Friday by their biggest rival, Hampden-Sydney, 68-55.

Joe Hassell had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Akeem Holmes added 10 points. But the Jackets were cold, shooting just 32 percent from the field.

The Tigers, mindful of being swept by the Jackets in the regular season, including a 90-67 loss in Ashland just nine days earlier, jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never relinquished it. The closest Randolph-Macon came was at 55-52 with under five minutes left, but the Jackets managed just three points after that. The Tigers returned a favor of sorts, after having been eliminated in the ODAC Tournament semifinals last year by Randolph-Macon after sweeping the Yellow Jackets in regular season play.

The team returned to Ashland with a weekend to chew on the defeat and wait for an invitation to the Men’s NCAA Division III Tournament. Not only did they earn a bid, they were chosen as one of 16 sites to host a first and second round pod when the field was announced on Monday afternoon.

This will be the fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament for head coach Nathan Davis, but his first opportunity to play in the tourney at Crenshaw. The Jackets are 7-4 in tournament play under Davis.

In the first round, Randolph-Macon (20-6) drew DeSales College, which won the Freedom Conference championship by defeating Misericordia 73-64 in overtime Saturday.

The two teams are no strangers, as the Jackets hold a 4-1 all-time record against DeSales, their last game a Randolph-Macon win in the 2010 tournament in the Sweet Sixteen en route to their last Final Four appearance. DeSales is located just southwest of Allentown, Pa.

The Bulldogs are led by the guard tandem of Mike Coleman, a first-team All-Freedom Conference honoree who averages 15.7 points per game, and fellow senior Kyle Hash, averaging just over 13 per contest while leading DeSales in rebounding.

The first contest in Ashland Friday evening will see an invasion of fans from Fredericksburg as the University of Mary Washington, winners of the Capital Athletic Conference title, battle Springfield College of Massachusetts, runners-up in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. The Eagles of UMW are 22-5, while the Pride are 20-7. Tip-off will be at 5:30 p.m.

The Randolph-Macon/DeSales game will begin at or after 7:30 p.m., depending on the length of the first game. Friday night’s winners will face off in a second round game for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen Saturday night, 7 p.m. start, all at Crenshaw Gymnasium.

Of note, Randolph-Macon is 11-2 all time against Mary Washington, but all games were regular season affairs. The Jackets have never played Springfield. With a win Friday night, Davis will become, in just five seasons, the all-time winningest coach in the NCAA Tournament in Randolph-Macon history with eight victories, surpassing the legendary Hal Nunnally, who was 7-13 all-time in tournament appearances.

For ticket information for the Men’s First/Second Round games at Crenshaw Gymnasium Friday and Saturday, or for additional information on the Women’s tournament game(s) in New Jersey, call the Yellow Jacket Athletic Department at (804) 752-7223.

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