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Men's Basketball Team Scores Hard-Won Victory

Some of the craziest moments in sports come from the most unlikely of scenarios.  Who saw Wichita State’s run to the Final Four coming last spring?  Or, for that matter, the same runs from in-state programs George Mason and VCU? America loves to pull for an underdog, and that’s exactly what you’d call the 2013–14 Washington and Lee men’s basketball squad.

The Generals have struggled through a rebuilding season, winning just six games and earning a No. 11 seed out of 12 teams entering the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament, which began last night, Feb. 25, with a series of first-round games on various campuses across the commonwealth.

W&L was paired with sixth-seeded Randolph for an opening-round game in Lynchburg, a rematch of a game the two teams played last Wednesday, Feb. 19, in which the WildCats won 80–57 by hitting a program-record 17 three-pointers.

Despite riding a six-game losing streak coming into the game, the Generals grabbed the early lead and held it for much of the first half, before Randolph took its first lead with seven seconds left for a 25–23 advantage heading into the locker room.

The WildCats pushed out to a seven-point lead (36–29) early in the second half, but W&L would retaliate with a 13–3 run that gave the Generals their first lead of the second half (42–39). The Blue & White remained within two possessions of the lead until junior forward Jim Etling (Loveland, Colo.) gave them the lead for good on a three-pointer with 1:26 left in the game.  Another three-pointer with 31 seconds left by first-year guard Andy Kleinlein (Chesterfield, Mo.) clinched the win, W&L’s first over Randolph since the 2009–10 season.

With the victory, the Generals (now 7–19 overall) advance to the quarterfinals of the ODAC Tournament, which will be held at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va., on Friday, Feb. 28. W&L will face third-seeded Guilford, which carries a 17–8 overall record into the contest.

The Quakers have defeated the Generals twice this season, 76–65 in Greensboro on Nov. 23, and 64–52 in Lexington on Feb. 8. In their only prior meeting in the ODAC Tournament, in 2009–10, an eighth-seeded W&L team defeated the top-seeded Quakers, 82–76, in double overtime. The win marked the first time a No. 8 seed (the lowest seed at that time) had ever defeated the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

The Generals advanced all the way to the ODAC title game that season before falling just short against Virginia Wesleyan 66–62—and that’s why we love sports.

If you are interested in following W&L’s tournament run, you may purchase tickets at the door for a day or the entire weekend. Day passes are available for $11.00 for adults and $6.00 for students.  Weekend passes are available for $34.00.  You can also watch the games live online at http://odac.tv/ for $7.95.

—by Brian Laubscher, Sports Information Director