Marlins Five Lead to Upset of Lynchburg in Quarterfinals

SALEM, Va. --- Just five Marlins scored points on Thursday evening in the Salem Civic Center, but it was the right five as sixth-seeded Virginia Wesleyan University upset third-seeded Lynchburg College, 61-51, in the ODAC Tournament quarterfinals. VWU improves to 13-13 on the season and moves on to face Randolph-Macon College (20-5) in the semifinals on Saturday. LC's season comes to a close at 20-6, the Hornets third straight 20-win season.

Reagan Holmes and Jayla Harris each registered a game-high 19 points, while Raya Berkley poured in 10 points. NiAsia Caldwell chipped in nine points off the bench, leaving Jaelyn Washington to account for the remaining four tallies.

While the Marlins big-five kept VWU in the lead for much of the contest, it certainly was not an easy task. That was especially true early in the second quarter when Lynchburg went on an 11-2 run that saw them push out to as much as a five-point edge at 22-17 following two frees by Olivia DeFrancesco at 6:17 of the frame.

That's when Holmes went on a mini-streak of her own, scoring eight straight points including a pair of three-pointers. Her second make with 4:16 on the clock gave VWU a 25-22 lead, which proved to be an advantage the Marlins would not relinquish. Holmes hit a trio more from deep in the contest to finish 5-of-11 from downtown.

The Marlins maintained a small lead throughout the remainder of the half, entering the break with a 29-26 edge.

VWU quickly moved out to a five-point edge once play resumed, LC showed its resolve by pulling to within one at 31-30 following a Caroline Naumann layup with 7:52 to play in the third frame.

Virginia Wesleyan's lead teetered from three to five points for a few minutes before Holmes put VWU up six at 38-32 with a high-lofted three-pointer with 4:42 on the third quarter clock. VWU's lead hit 10 points at 44-34 following two Caldwell free throws at 1:42, but Molly Shephard registered a traditional three-point play to cut it back to seven at 44-37.

That margin would prove popular as the Marlins carried a 46-39 lead into the final quarter.

Offense was at a premium early on in the fourth period with the scoreboard counting up just four points on either side when Caldwell made a layup with 5:20 to play. That put VWU up seven at 50-43. Lynchburg would pull to within six on two occasions, but the Marlins eventually pushed the lead back out to a game-high 10 points, including the fixture's final margin.

Naumann and DeFrancesco led LC with 14 apiece, while Naumann posted a game-high nine boards in her final collegiate game.