Monday, January 5, 2009


Brevard loses 19-point lead, recovers to post seventh win

Brevard, N.C. – Brevard College blew a 19-point second half lead but recovered to defeat Montreat College, 96-90 in overtime, Monday night at Boshamer Gymnasium. The Tornados move to 7-3 with the win, while Montreat falls to 5-10.

Michael Jones’ squad fell behind 6-0 in the game’s first 38 seconds but took firm control of the contest with a well-orchestrated 16-0 run over the next 8:33. Nathan Whitmire (Rosman, N.C.) started the rally with his first three-pointer of the season and Cody Siniard (Brevard, N.C.) capped it off with a fast break lay-in with 10:49 left in the opening half to make the score 16-6.

After Darin Dellinger (Stanley, N.C.) canned a trifecta to stretch Brevard’s lead to 31-15, the Tornados pushed the advantage to 17 on a free throw from Sam Carlisle (Raleigh, N.C.) with 4:23 left in the half, making the score 32-15. But a 9-2 Montreat spurt, finished by a Matt Rushing (Mt. Holly, N.C.) basket with 1:09 left in the period, brought Montreat back to within ten at 34-24. Joseph Chilton (Brasstown, N.C.) hit the half’s final shot, a three-pointer on Brevard’s last possession, the send the teams to the locker room with Brevard up 37-24.

After two free throws from Timmy Harper (Catawba, N.C.) brought Montreat back within ten, 41-31 at the 16:55 mark of the second half, Brevard looked to have put the game away with an 11-2 run over the next 2:52. Back-to-back baskets from Whitmire gave the Tornados a 52-33 lead with 14:03 to play. The teams traded baskets for the next several minutes, with Brevard again assuming a 19-point gap, 62-43, with 9:49 left after a lay-up by Dellinger.

But facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit, the Cavaliers shook off the rust associated with a 23-day Christmas break to make the game a classic. A 10-0 run, ended by an M.J. Njoku (Rochester, N.Y.) free throw, cut the lead to single digits, 62-53, with 7:48 to play. Back and forth action saw Brevard retake a double-digit lead on a Jonathan Whitson (Clyde, N.C.) basket, making the tally 71-60 with 3:46 left, but the Cavaliers had one run left in the tank.

The Tornados made just two field goals in the final 3:46 of regulation, and Montreat used the offensive miscues as well as free throws to claw back into contention. The Cavaliers hit their final eight free throws, six of them from Njoku, to make the score 77-75 with :24 to play and possession of the ball.

After Njoku missed a shot but collected his own offensive rebound with :14 left, Montreat ran a set that saw the ball find Kevin Hanlon’s hands in the right side corner with time winding down. Hanlon (Perkasie, Pa.) drove down the baseline and tied up the game with a running one-hander with three seconds left. After a timeout, the Tornados set up one final shot, but Siniard’s runner at the buzzer was too strong, and the two teams went to overtime tied at 77.

The veteran Tornados responded like champions in the extra period, despite the fact that momentum rested in the Montreat camp. Brevard scored the first four points of extra time on a basket by Whitson and two freebies from Whitmire, then ran the lead to eight on a four-point play from Chilton to make the score 87-79 with 2:50 left.

The Cavaliers refused to concede, as Njoku hit six more free throws down the stretch, but the gap was never closer than four the rest of the way and Brevard finished on top, 96-90.

“We didn’t play well tonight, especially in the second half, but we made plays down the stretch and that is encouraging,” Jones said after the battle was won. “I’m happy with the balanced offense, but there’s no doubt we will need to be better in our next game.”

Just hours after being named South Atlantic Conference Player of the Week, Whitson led Brevard with 17 points. Chilton finished with 15 points, Whitmire added 14, Dellinger chipped in 13 and Siniard was the fifth player in double figures with ten. Whitmire, Siniard, Sean Ferretti (Amherst, N.Y.; nine points) and Shane Galloway (Rosman, N.C.; six points) all had personal season highs in the scoring column. Ferretti was just a point away from a double-double as he led all players with 11 rebounds.

Montreat was led by Njoku, who hit 17 of 24 free throws and scored 27. Rushing added 21, A.J. Smith scored 13 off the bench and Harper scored 11. The Cavaliers were the first team all season to shoot 40% from the floor against Brevard, hitting 26 of 65 field goal attempts.

Brevard will return to SAC play Wednesday against Lenoir-Rhyne, with tip scheduled for 8 p.m. Montreat will host King Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.