Strong First Half Carries Marlins to Fifth Straight Win

Lamont Steward goes up for a dunk against Lynchburg on Wednesday. Photo by: Sebastian Burke
Lamont Steward goes up for a dunk against Lynchburg on Wednesday. Photo by: Sebastian Burke

Strong First Half Carries Marlins to Fifth Straight Win

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The Virginia Wesleyan University men's basketball team outscored Lynchburg College by 15 in the first half to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) opener for both teams, 69-61, on Wednesday.

The win was the fifth-straight for the Marlins to start the season. It is the longest streak to start a campaign since 2013-14 when Virginia Wesleyan started 7-0. That squad went on to finish 24-7 overall with an appearance in the NCAA round of 16.

Virginia Wesleyan led 9-8 through the first five minutes of the game, before starting to pull away. Lamont Steward stole the ball from Chance Greene and raced up the court for a thunderous dunk to go up 11-8 with 14:23 to play until halftime. A Tim Fisher layup on the next possession put the Marlins up five.

The Marlins kept the Hornets at a five-point deficit until six minutes remained in the first. Back-to-back three-pointers from Connor Schroeder put Lynchburg up for the first time, 19-18. Corey Pelham connected on a three to put VWU back in front, but Schroeder connected from distance once more to go up 22-21 at the 5:17 mark, forcing a VWU timeout.

Virginia Wesleyan knocked down three-pointers on three straight possessions as Pelham, Tyree Golston, and Steward capitalized while LC managed just a lone free throw on the other end, resulting in a 30-23 Marlin lead with 3:27 remaining.

The Hornets connected on just two free throws over the next three minutes, finally getting a field goal as Logan Seacrist scored a layup with 35 seconds until the break. The Marlins meanwhile closed the half on a 12-4 run to lead 42-27.

The Marlins came out of the break just as hot, scoring the first nine points to go up 51-27 with 17:20 to play. Percy Burt started the scoring with a three-pointer and a layup, followed by jumpers from Keijon Honore and Khalil Barnette.

The Hornets could not get closer than 16 until the waning minutes when the LC bench managed to rally on the Virginia Wesleyan bench.

Virginia Wesleyan took its largest lead of 24 points at 68-44 when Percy Burt dunked a ball off a Devin Garrett assist with 5:41 remaining. Lynchburg finished the game on a 17-1 run to reach the final margin.

Greene led Lynchburg (3-3/0-1) with 13 points while Schroeder added 11, making all three of his field goals in a two-minute span of the first half.

Lynchburg, an 80% free-throw shooting team entering the contest, went 11-for-19 (57.9%) at the line on Wednesday. The Hornets were also held to just 8-for-26 (30.8%) from distance.

Pelham led the Marlins with a career-high 15 points on five first-half three-pointers. Steward finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Fisher contributed nine points in 11 minutes off the bench.

Virginia Wesleyan (5-0/1-0) faces Greensboro College (1-2) on Friday in the N.C. Wesleyan Tip-Off Classic. The Marlins and Pride tip at 6 p.m.