Guilford College Men’s Basketball Final – Guilford 91, Va. Wesleyan 80 (OT)

Salem, Va. – Ben Strong scored 10 of his team-high 28 points in overtime to lead top-seeded Guilford College past second-seeded Virginia Wesleyan College, 91-80, in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Basketball Tournament final Sunday afternoon.

With their first ODAC men’s basketball crown, the Quakers (24-4) earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs. The pairings for the 59-team field will be announced Monday, March 3 at noon (EST) on

Guilford needed extra time to win its 16th straight game after the Marlins (22-6) erased an 18-point second-half deficit. After Caleb Kimbrough made one of two free throws with 21 seconds remaining for a 72-68 Guilford lead, Stephen Fields drained an off-balanced three-pointer and drew a Kimbrough foul with 13.6 seconds left. Following a Guilford timeout, Fields made the free throw to force the game’s first tie since the opening basket.

The Quakers scored the first nine points in overtime before a Fields basket marked Virginia Wesleyan’s first overtime points 2:34 into the period. Strong (8-8) and Henson (4-4) combined to make all 12 free throws in overtime and never let the Marlins closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Strong added a game-high 15 rebounds for his league- and career-high 21st double-double. The two-time ODAC Player of the Year captured the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award after averaging 23 points and 12.3 boards in three tourney games. Clay Henson added 19 points and Kimbrough matched his season high with 18 points, 12 after halftime. Both students joined Strong on the all-tournament team. The Quakers shot 53.4 percent from the floor and made 24-of-27 free throws.

The Marlins’ Ton Ton Balenga scored a game-high 30 points thanks to a game-high seven three-point baskets. He and Tyler Fantin (21 points, eight rebounds) represented Virginia Wesleyan on the all-tournament team. Fantin and Balenga combined for 25 of their team’s 42 second-half points. The Marlins shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the second half, including six-of-13 from three-point land. Virginia Wesleyan’s record falls to 22-6. The Marlins will likely receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Notes: Guilford’s 16 straight wins mark the team’s longest winning streak since the 1969-70 club won 29 straight… Virginia Wesleyan, Guilford head coach Tom Palombo’s alma mater, has ended the Quakers’ season in each of the past four years, last year in the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals and the three previous seasons in the ODAC Tournament… Kimbrough has scored in double figures in each of the last four games, a feat he accomplished five times in Guilford’s first 26 games.

Virginia Wesleyan vs Guilford / 03/02/08 3:30 p.m. at Salem, Va. – Civic Center At Salem, Va. – Civic Center
BALENGA, TonTon 10-23 3-4 30; FANTIN, Tyler 8-16 3-5 21; FIELDS, Stephen 7-12 3-5 18; TUCKER, D’Juan 2-4 0-1 4; HASSELL, Norman 1-3 0-0 3; CARLTON, Julius 1-2 0-0 2; DIXON, Terrell 1-2 0-0 2; SIMMONS, Quantrell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-64 9-15 80.
STRONG, Ben 8-16 12-13 28; HENSON, Clay 7-11 4-4 19; KIMBROUGH, Caleb 6-9 3-4 18; SANBORN, Tyler 3-4 1-1 7; NEVILLE, George 3-6 0-0 6; BONNER, Rhett 1-3 2-2 5; EDMOND, Ray 1-3 2-2 4; BELKOSKI, Eric 2-6 0-1 4; STEPHENSON, Martin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-58 24-27 91.
Virginia Wesleyan…………. 30 42 8 – 80
Guilford…………………. 43 29 19 – 91
3-point goals–Virginia Wesleyan 11-28 (BALENGA, TonTon 7-15; FANTIN, Tyler 2-6; FIELDS, Stephen 1-3; HASSELL, Norman 1-1; DIXON, Terrell 0-1; TUCKER, D’Juan 0-2), Guilford 5-12 (KIMBROUGH, Caleb 3-5; BONNER, Rhett 1-2; HENSON, Clay 1-4; EDMOND, Ray 0-1).
Fouled out–Virginia Wesleyan-CARLTON, Julius, Guilford-SANBORN, Tyler. Rebounds–Virginia Wesleyan 25 (FIELDS, Stephen 9),
Guilford 37 (STRONG, Ben 15).
Assists–Virginia Wesleyan 15 (FIELDS, Stephen 3; TUCKER, D’Juan 3; FANTIN, Tyler 3; DIXON, Terrell 3), Guilford 15
(KIMBROUGH, Caleb 6).
Total fouls–Virginia Wesleyan 23, Guilford 18.
Technical fouls–Virginia Wesleyan-None, Guilford-None.
2008 ODAC Men’s Basketball Championship
#1 Guilford vs. #2 Virginia Wesleyan
GC Wins It’s First ODAC Men’s Basketball Championship
Guilford’s Ben Strong is named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.