Sometimes the hole is just too deep, the margin too wide.
“When you dig a hole for yourself that deep and you come back, you’re so tired,” Randolph-Macon sophomore guard Sarah Parsons said. “We simply ran out of time. There’s only so much you can do with 45 seconds left.”
The Yellow Jackets saw their three-game winning streak stopped Saturday afternoon by Washington & Lee, who built a 20-point second-half lead, then held on for dear life to defeat the Jackets 69-63.
The Generals led from the 4-3 mark just over five minutes into the contest and never gave it up. The Jackets would show signs of cutting the deficit significantly, like when a Parsons steal and layup cut the lead to 21-15 with 6:35 left in the half. Two minutes later, the lead was 11, then Hannah Livermon led a Randolph-Macon response that made the halftime margin just eight for Washington & Lee at 33-25.
“The first half, we let them get open shots and that’s going to kill us every time,” Parsons said. “So, I guess we finally learned our lesson on the defensive end. At halftime, Coach [Carroll LaHaye] told us we had to dig down deep, find some energy, and play some defense.”
The Jackets did just that. The scoreboard, though, didn’t indicate any successes with their newfound defensive pressure, as the Generals started the half on a 20-10 spurt in the first nine minutes. Patience, though, finally paid off for Randolph-Macon, who were missing their leading scorer and rebounder, freshman Katie Anderson (Patrick Henry), who was held out at the last minute after running a high temperature on Saturday. Lindsey Sharman and Christina Phelps also did not play, eliminating the depth advantage the Jackets would normally have over a Washington & Lee team with only nine players on the roster and eight available to play Saturday.
A Parsons steal and layup at the midway point of the second half trimmed the lead to 16. Thirty seconds later, her three-pointer made it 13. The Generals called time out. It didn’t work.
Parsons stole the ball again, drove in for two, and within 90 seconds the lead was now 11.
Where the Jackets hurt themselves most during their furious comeback was on the defensive boards. Clearly missing Anderson’s presence, the Generals had multitudes of second and third shot opportunities on possessions, ending in eventual points to stem the tide. But Randolph-Macon never stopped battling.
Livermon’s second three-pointer of the game cut the lead to eight with 6:20 left. With four minutes left, the lead was six, and when Khajae Hester was pushed from behind during a fast break opportunity with 3:42 to go, the officials correctly called it an intentional foul against the Generals. Hester drained two free throws and the scoreboard read 63-59.
The next two minutes were filled with missed opportunities for both teams, and the Generals missed two front ends of one-and-one’s, but the Jackets couldn’t capitalize, as Hester missed a layup and Livermon a three-point attempt. After a Macon timeout, freshman Nicole Freeman drew a foul with 1:41 to go, sank both free throws, and the Crenshaw crowd was ecstatic. It was 63-61.
The Jackets, though, would get no closer. The Generals hit their free throws while Randolph-Macon went cold in the final minute to seal the win for Washington & Lee. Parsons led the Jackets (4-6 ODAC, 5-14 overall) with 19 points while Hester added 15. Freshman Lauren Vugteveen stepped up her play, contributing 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“I didn’t think we came out with the energy that we’ve had,” LaHaye noted after the game. “We dug that hole pretty deep. We did come back, but we gave up too many offensive rebounds. Those come back to haunt you all the time.”
The Jackets were outrebounded 49-33.
With one chance to gain in the ODAC standings lost, the Jackets had another chance to edge closer to the conference’s top half Wednesday (after presstime) at Virginia Wesleyan. Randolph-Macon returns to Crenshaw Saturday at 2 p.m. to battle Roanoke as part of the program’s 24th annual “Back To The Hive” event. Activities kick off with the annual Alumnae Game at 11 a.m. and a reception following the Roanoke game in Alumni Gym.