Guilford College Men’s Basketball Sees Season End in National Semifinals to Hampden-Sydney

Men’s Basketball Sees Season End in National Semifinals to Hampden-Sydney
Burch, Dearman, and Proctor score 15-plus each as best season since 2010 concludes
from Bryce Johnson, Director of Athletic Communications at Guilford College

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – It was a battle straight through the final horn, but ultimately the Guilford College men’s basketball team fell in a battle of Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) foes to Hampden-Sydney College in the National Semifinals of the 2024 NCAA Division-III Men’s Basketball Tournament, 62-57, on Thursday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

“Yeah, I thought it was a heck of a game,” Head Coach Tom Palombo said. “That is a heck of a team in Hampden-Sydney, they made some plays down the stretch… I am really proud of our guys, we had a heck of a season and played a heck of a game, they were just a little bit better today.”

With the loss the Quakers season comes to a close, but what a season it was, finishing 26-5, making the National Tournament for the first time since 2019 and reaching the Final Four and pilling up their highest win total since 2010. The Tigers, meanwhile, advance to battle Trine in the National Championship game after improving to 31-2.

In a contest that featured nine ties and a dozen lead changes, it was ultimately H-SC’s victory in the interior with 30 points in the paint against 19 for Guilford that was the difference. Neither team shot particularly well, with GC shooting 33.3% and 29.0% on their 31 three-point attempts. Hampden-Sydney shot 42.1% and 29.4% from range.

In what ended up as their final collegiate games, the tandem of Tyler Dearman (Greensboro, N.C.) and Julius Burch (Greensboro, N.C.) were tremendous. They each scored 16 points. Burch shot 6-of-9 and recorded his tenth double-double with 11 rebounds, including six offensive, with a team-high three assists and two steals. Dearman added four rebounds, a pair of assists, a game-high four steals.

Luke Proctor (Apex, N.C.) scored well, pouring in 15 points making five of his ten three-point attempts in addition to five boards. Rob Littlejohn (Columbus, Ohio) scored eight with two steals and three blocks.

Davidson Hubbard scored 16 to lead the Tigers making 6-of-12 from the field. Ryan Clements and Shane Fernald scored ten apiece with Clements also securing eight rebounds and Fernald contributing five assists off the bench.

The differentiator ended up being the balance for Hampden-Sydney who had three other players score six-or-more points outside of their trio of double-digit scorers, against just one such player for the Quakers.

The first ten minutes transpired exactly like a matchup between two of the five best defenses in Division-III should. The Tigers scored on their opening possession as after about 25 seconds of great defense, Josiah Hartley made a tough fadeaway jumper from just outside the restricted area. It took the Quakers a few minutes to get on the board as after Hubbard split a pair at the line, Proctor cashed in a straight-away three to even things at three. Burch made a pair at the charity stripe at precisely the 16-minute mark, giving GC the lead right out of it, 5-3.

Moments later, Burch fought through contact, earning three points the old-fashioned way giving Guilford an 8-7 edge, but that sparked a run by Hampden-Sydney as they countered with seven-straight. Dearman halted the stretch with a three and after a second-chance jumper with his foot on the line, by Alex Elliott the Quakers made their move. A second-chance score by Burch, and a second-chance three by Littlejohn brought things even again. The seven-point spurt and the five-straight by Guilford that followed would constitute the longest run by either side in the half. Both teams found some comfort during the final six minutes of the frame, as suddenly this defensive slog that saw 32 combined points over 14 minutes of play, saw 27 across the final six minutes. It essentially was all in a punch-counterpunch pattern and as Burch fielded a missed shot and laid in put-back as the horn sounded, it gave GC a 30-29 lead.

Guilford made six threes against just two for H-SC and also scored eight points off six Tiger turnovers against three for the opposition. As a result, they still had the lead despite an 18-8 disadvantage in points in the paint.

A flurry of scoring over the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the second half brought the score to 40-37 before the Quakers struck. While spread-out, GC poured in ten-straight on a second-chance midrange shot by Burch, a layup from Dearman, the first career three-pointer of Burch’s career, a second-chance look as the shot clock expired, and even more second-chance points, on a three by Proctor extended the lead to three possessions for the first time all night by either side at 47-40.

H-SC responded with consecutive threes out of the hands of Elliott and Hubbard, then another two by Hubbard and a turnaround basket by Adam Brazil. A Dearman layup only temporarily stopped the bleeding, as Clements made a three, Hubbard got a second-chance layup, and Clements threw down a dunk making the score 57-49 and unfortunately, the Quakers would not be able to get it to a one-possession game the rest of the way, falling, 62-57.

This concludes the Quakers tremendous 2023-24 season.