ASHLAND, Va. -- Kaelin Poe's height is list as 6-feet, 5-inches, but on Friday he played like he was at least a foot taller against a line-up of sequoias from Dickinson College.
Poe (Greensboro, N.C./Hampton Kecoughtan, Va.), a sophomore, produced career-high numbers, scoring 16 points and pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds, to help lead No. 9 Virginia Wesleyan College's Marlins to a 75-65 victory over the No. 10 Dickinson College Red Devils in an NCAA Sweet 16 game played at Crenshaw Gymnasium at Randolph-Macon College.
VWC (26-5) advances to Saturday's Elite 8 game at 7 p.m., against the winner of Friday's second game between New York's St. John Fisher College (25-4) and the host Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon (27-2). Dickinson, the Centennial Conference champion, ends its season with a 24-6 record.
Dickinson entered the game with one of the tallest lineups the Marlins have seen all season. Six Red Devils stood anywhere from 6-6 to 6-11, and five played, giving the Pennsylvania team a definite advantage around the backboards.
But, a quicker VWC team was able to get positioned inside to get a shot at scoring and rebounding. Poe was the key as his 14 boards helped the Marlins to match Dickinson's rebounding final rebounding number of 37. It marked the fourth straight double-figure game on the boards for Poe, who entered the game averaging 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 points per outing.
While the Marlins matched the Red Devils on the boards, VWC's biggest advantage took place in three-point shooting. The game presented an interesting match-up as Dickinson ranked No. 7 nationally in three-point defense, allowing just 29%, while Virginia Wesleyan ranked No. 10 nationally, averaging 9.7 triples each outing.
VWC's first three baskets Friday were all triples and the Marlins went on to hit 12-of-30 shots from behind the arc. Dickinson connected on just 5-of-22 attempts. Senior sparkplug Breven Lyons (Newport News/Warwick) hit 4-of-8 triples and junior Nick Doyle (Franklin/Southampton) canned 3-of-5.
Virginia Wesleyan has now won 91 of 107 games, including 28 in a row, when the Marlins hit 10 or more triples in a game. VWC opened the season hitting a program record 18 triples in a win over The College of New Jersey and have hit double-figure triples 16 times so far this season. Friday's 12 triples increased VWC's current season total to 302...one shy of the program record.
Virginia Wesleyan led 30-26 at halftime as the Marlins hit six treys in the first 30 minutes, including at least one from five different players. Sophomore Khory Moore (Arlington/Wakefield) hit two in a row and sophomore Tim Jones (Richmond/Henrico) hit another to score VWC's first nine points of the game.
Dickinson, led by 6-8 senior Gerry Wixted (Moorestown, N.J./Camden Catholic), the Centennial Conference's Player of the Year, and 6-7 junior Ted Hinnenkamp (York, Pa., sparked the Devils on a 7-2 run to open the second half and take a 33-32 lead with 18:13 on the clock. It was the last lead of the game for Dickinson however, as Jones hit a triple to return the lead to VWC and Lyons hit another to help the Marlins into a 42-35 advantage less than three minutes later.
Robert Picka (Cockeysville, Md./Dulaney), a 6-11 sophomore, Steve Collins (Rydal, Pa./LaSalle College High), a 6-10 senior, and Hinnenkamp came through with points that kept the Devils within five points, but VWC repeatedly had the scoring answer. Virginia Wesleyan put together a 9-2 run, helped by back-to-back Doyle triples, to open up the largest Marlin lead of the game at 63-51 with 5:22 remaining to be played.
Dickinson cut the spread later to 68-61, helped by a Wixted triple with 1:24 on the clock, but Moore, Poe, Lyons, and Doyle all hit lead-padding free throws in the remaining time.
Lyons hit 5-of-9 shots overall en route to scoring 17 points for the Marlins, followed by Poe with 16, Moore with 15, and Doyle with 12. Senior Greg Montgomery (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne), Lyons, and Doyle all finished with three assists each.
Wixted topped all scoring with 26 points, nailing 9-of-20 shots, including three triples. He also tied Hinnenkamp for team-high rebounding honors, each with 10. Hinnenkamp also scored 15 points and dished out four assists. Wixted recorded three blocks.
Basketball fans who would like to attend VWC's Elite 8 game on Saturday will be able to do so two ways. Tickets will go on sale in the Virginia Wesleyan athletic suite from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Interested individuals can come to the office with cash only, or call 757-455-3303 with a credit card.
Fans can also can claim a seat on the VWC fan bus, which will leave from the Batten Center at 4 p.m. and return immediately after Saturday's game. The cost (CASH ONLY) is $20 for students and $25 for adults. Both prices include the bus AND the game ticket. Tickets will be sold at the bus in the Batten Center lot.