RICHMOND, Va. -- It may have been a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles-ish trip to get to Fort Wayne, but the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets took care of business when it mattered, knocking off #2 Marietta College 81-63 in a Division Three National Semifinal.
The top-ranked Jackets got 22 points from Ian Robertson, 18 from Josh Talbert and 17 from Miles Mallory, seizing a lead right from the very beginning of the game and never losing it.
"My job is to get out of the way," said RMC Head Coach Josh Merkel whose team has won a school-record 32 games this year. "We've got some really good players that are very unselfish and trust and love each other."
Senior Buzz Anthony added 12 points and 11 assists as the Jackets shot 51% for the game and 46% from behind the arc. Robertson made 6 of his 9 shots from three.
"If I don't shoot the open ones, my teammates yell at me," Robertson said. "Just seeing it go in the first couple of times gave me a lot of confidence".
Marietta closed the gap to 6 early in the second half, but the Jackets responded with an 18-3 run that effectively put the game away.
Because of the late notice of having a 26-person traveling party, RMC had to leave Ashland at 4 a.m. Wednesday, bus to Dulles Airport, fly to Chicago, then fly to Toledo before bussing to Fort Wayne. Each player, the seniors especially, reveled in the opportunity to be together for what will be their last road trip.
"It's the first time we had a bus with a table in it," said Anthony. "We spent most of the trip playing cards."
"I'm a senior" Robertson added. "When am I going to get another chance to take a road trip with 15 of my friends?"
Saturday night will mark the first opportunity any Randolph-Macon team has had to play for a national title. After having a team that conceivably could have been here in either of the last two seasons, if not for the pandemic, this year's group is playing for more than themselves.
"I looked into the stands and saw (former RMC players) Luke Neelley and Korey Turner," Anthony said. "Guys who graduated and didn't get the chance. That's what a lot of our guys are holding important."
"We were called the fourth-best backcourt that was here," said Merkel. "We are finding our chip to come in here and go earn something. If you want something that's meaningful, you've got to go earn it."