Brevard, N.C. – Brevard College trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but double-doubles from Jonathan Whitson and Sam Carlisle led the Tornados to a 70-66 comeback victory over Erskine College Monday night at Boshamer Arena. With the win, Brevard snaps their first two-game losing skid of the season.
The Tornados (8-5, 1-3 South Atlantic Conference) traded baskets with Erskine (2-9, 2-4 Conference Carolinas) for the game’s first five minutes and change, with the Tornados grabbing an 8-7 lead on a Carlisle (Raleigh, N.C.) lay-up with 14:44 left in the first half.
Erskine came back with the game’s first true run, a 10-0 spurt over the next 3:28 to take a 17-8 lead. Marko Latinovic (Belgrade, Serbia) scored eight points in the run, including a pair of three-point baskets, and Nick Riley (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added a basket as the Flying Fleet built the largest lead of the game held by either team.
Michael Jones’ team stormed back into the game with a 10-2 streak of their own. Andrew Freeman (Asheville, N.C.) capped the run with his second consecutive made three-pointer to make the tally 19-18 Fleet with 8:36 left in the half.
Brevard briefly took the lead on another Carlisle basket with 4:38 in the period to grab a 25-24 advantage, but thanks in part to a long-range bomb from Riley and a three-point play from Latinovic, Erskine finished the half on a 10-3 spurt to take a 34-28 intermission advantage.
Playing in front of the Brevard College student body for the first time in nearly two months, the Tornados opened the half with an 8-0 streak. Carlisle started the breakout with a basket on Brevard’s first possession and capped it with a free throw; in between Nathan Whitmire (Rosman, N.C.) drained a three-point bomb and Whitson (Clyde, N.C.) scored a lay-in, and Brevard led 36-34 with 16:40 to play.
Erskine tied the game at 36 on a shot from Riley, but Brevard rebuilt a four-point advantage on consecutive baskets from Whitson to make the score 40-36. But a 7-2 Fleet run, capped by another trey from Riley, put Erskine up 43-42 with 11:37 left.
Erskine rook their final lead on a Brandon Wright (Goose Creek, S.C.) jumper with 11:04 on the clock, making the score 45-44, but Brevard tied the game on a free throw from Sean Ferretti (Amherst, N.Y.) and took the lead on a shot clock buzzer-beater from Terrence Johnson (Owensboro, Ky.), putting BC ahead 48-45.
Mark Peeler’s Fleet tied the game for the fifth and final time on a free throw from Dejan Nedelkovski (Skopje, Macedonia) with 7:57 on the clock, but a three-point play from Ferretti and a running basket from Darin Dellinger (Stanley, N.C.) put Jones & Co. ahead for good, 55-50, with 7:24 to play.
The Fleet tried to mount a comeback on two three-pointers from Riley and trifectas from Wright and Latinovic in the game’s final six minutes, but Brevard never relinquished the lead. Erskine had a chance to tie the game after Wright boarded a missed Brevard shot with :25 left to play and the score 68-66, but Nedelkovski missed an off-balance shot in the lane and Whitson snared the board and knocked down two crucial free throws to seal the deal, 70-66.
“This was as important as any win we will earn this season,” Jones said in his postgame comments. “Having lost two straight, in the middle of a stretch where we play nine games in twenty days, this was a huge victory for us to gain some momentum heading into a very tough stretch.”
Whitson paced Brevard with 18 points and ten rebounds, while Carlisle contributed 13 points and 11 boards. Freeman knocked down a trio of three-pointers and finished with 11 points of his own. The Tornados dominated the glass, grabbing 33 rebounds to Erskine’s 18, including 14 rebounds on the offensive glass.
The Fleet were led by Riley, who scored 22 points on 5-7 shooting from downtown, and Latinovic scored 16 points after hitting 3-4 from the perimeter. Wright, who averages 22.8 points per game, was held to 13 points, and Nedelkovski, a 13.5 ppg contributor, scored eight.
“I have to give a ton of credit to the guys we assigned to guard Wright and Nedelkovski,” added Jones. “Sean Ferretti, Christian Matus, Cody Siniard, Terrence Johnson and Darin Dellinger were all key for us on the defensive end tonight.”
Erskine is the first team to date that Brevard has swept in 2008-09. The Tornados won the first match-up in Due West, S.C., 59-55, on November 22.
Brevard resumes SAC play Wednesday night when they host Catawba at 8 p.m. Erskine’s next contest is Wednesday, when they travel to Limestone for a 7:30 p.m. bout.