Men’s Basketball Stays Perfect

Tahli Oden, junior, drives the ball through the lane for two of his nine points against Averett University.
Tahli Oden, junior, drives the ball through the lane for two of his nine points against Averett University.
Staff Photo
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  • Jayden Boyd, freshman, lays up two of his nine points against Averett University last Saturday.

  • Darwin Randolph, junior, glides toward the bucket for two in the Panthers’ 84-62 win over Averett University.

  • Alfredo Abel-Rivera floats underneath the rim for a reverse lay-up and two of his 13 points against Averett University.

  • Bryant Wall, junior, slams it home with a viscous dunk against Averett University. Wall had 12 points on the afternoon.

  • Jikari Johnson, junior, prepares to drive the lane against Averett University. Johnson was the game’s high scorer with 25 points.

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When the men’s basketball team blew out Mid-Atlantic Christina University 107-52 in the season opener, Head Coach Patrick Corrigan said the true test of the team will be what they do when they face adversity.

Some of that test came on Saturday when the Panthers faced Averett University at home in the opening of Old Dominion Athletic Conference play. Ferrum came away victorious with an 84-62 win.

“We did face some adversity today,” Corrigan said. “I thought the guys came together, and they bought in and were trying to win the game.”

Down two starters, Darwin Randolph, junior, and Alfredo Abel-Rivera, sophomore got the starting nods, and if famed ESPN announcer Chris Berman were doing the play calls, he’d most likely refer to the pair as Darwin “Survival-of-the-Fastest” Randolph, and Alfredo “Ready, Willing, and Abel” Rivera.

Together, the two combined for 23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 assists.

“Darwin stepped up for Zavier (Measmer, junior),” Corrigan said. “I told him at half time, ‘You have two rebounds’, and he said, ‘Alright, I gotcha.’ He was guarding one of their better players. The run that we made to push it from eight to 18–he was a big part of that. He had a couple assists and a couple steals that led to buckets, and he was a big part of the solution.”

Randolph ended the afternoon with 10 points and eight rebounds. Abel-Rivera finished out with seven rebounds of his own, along with 13 points.

“He plays so hard,” Corrigan said of Abel-Rivera. “Just from how hard he played last year to how hard he’s playing this year–he had a good summer in the weight room, and his competitiveness fuels his fire.”

The Panthers never trailed in the game, and the only time the score was tied was at the opening tip.

“We knew going in that guys were going to have to step up into roles–carry on more scoring, carry on more defensively,” Corrigan said.

One player Corrigan singled out was Tahli Oden, senior, who filled in at point guard, running the offense and directing traffic.

“Tahli handled the ball for 38 minutes, and anytime you do that against a team that good defensively–as a former point guard–you don’t get a lot of credit for that,” he said

Oden had nine points on the afternoon, but also 11 assists, a steal, and only two turnovers.

“That’s fantastic,” Corrigan said. “And it felt like that. He’s really developed over the last year and a half. We trusted him with the ball, and he made great plays.”

At the end of the first half, the Panthers led by 11, 35-24, but the Cougars came out off the break with a renewed intensity and cut the lead to six at 45-39 with 14:25 left to play.

“We didn’t defend the way we had in the first half, which is always tough to do,” Corrigan said. “The bench was shortened because of the guys out. And it’s hard to sustain that intensity unless you have depth. It’s about sustaining it.”

Corrigan said that when Averett cut it to six, it tested the team.

“We regrouped, and we had to dig in, and I thought we did that,” he said. “We rallied off a pretty big run–but it was more intensity than any kind of adjustment. Playing a little bit harder can be the difference between a make or a miss–it’s a hard thing to do, and you really have to get your mind right for it.”

The big run of which Corrigan spoke lasted a good eight minutes and had the Panthers up by 18 on an Abel-Rivera layup that made the score 69-51 with 6:23 remaining in the contest.

When the final seconds ticked away, Jakari Johnson, junior, finished leading all scorers with 25 points. He also had an assist, two steals, and four rebounds to add to the effort. Corrigan said he may need a thesaurus to find new ways to describe Johnson’s play.

“I’m out of words,” Corrigan said of Johnson. “He’s unbelievable. I just trust him with the ball. It’s one of those things where the whole team agrees with it. It’s not just coming from me. They understand he’s a really good player and to look for him. He understands when and where to attack.”

The win puts the Panthers at 5-0 on the season and 1-0 in the ODAC, and the team will face Roanoke College on Wednesday night in Roanoke at 7 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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