Brevard, N.C. – Brevard College trailed for all but 2:11 of the second half, but crucial free throws down the stretch from Nathan Whitmire and Jonathan Whitson led the Tornados to a 59-56 win over Wingate University Saturday night at Boshamer Gymnasium. Brevard (9-6, 2-4 South Atlantic Conference) snaps a three-game SAC losing streak with the win.
Down 56-55 with less than a minute to play, Whitmire (Rosman, N.C.) drove the paint and was fouled on the way to the rim by Ben Davis (Chapel Hill, N.C.). The junior knocked down both free throws to put Brevard ahead with :54 to play.
Two possessions later, Wingate’s Jamie Vaughn (McDonough, Ga.) was fouled by Whitmire with :13 left but missed two free throws that would have given the Bulldogs the edge. Whitson (Clyde, N.C.) grabbed the board off the second miss and hit two free shots of his own to make the lead 59-56. Wingate (6-10, 2-3 SAC) called two timeouts to set up a game-tying three but never got a shot off, and the Tornados escaped with their second SAC win.
The wild finish capped a tightly-contested defensive battle which saw neither team lead by more than six points. Whitson scored Brevard’s first two baskets, giving the Tornados a 4-2 lead with 17:17 left in the first half. Wingate rallied with a 7-2 spurt to take a 9-6 lead after a Vaughn trey with 14:33 left in the half.
The Tornados tied the game with a three-pointer from Joseph Chilton (Brasstown, N.C.) and took the lead, 12-11, on a long range bomb from Terrence Johnson (Owensboro, Ky.) midway through the opening half.
The lead would change hands eight more times before the end of the half, with the Tornados going ahead, 25-23 on a lay-in from Chilton and stretching the lead to four on a bucket from Whitson with :12 left in the period. But Wingate scored the last points of the half, a buzzer-beating trifecta from DeMario Mattox (Rocky Mount, Va.), and the teams went to intermission with Brevard up, 27-26.
Wingate took the lead 14 seconds into the half on a three-pointer from Rosco Turner (Lexington, N.C.) and stretched the lead to 31-27 on a fast break dunk from Tommy Coles (Danville, Va.) with 19:09 to play.
Wingate would maintain the lead until the 12:57 point, when a Chilton three-ball tied the game at 38, but Wingate resurged ahead on a Larry Staley (Charlotte, N.C.) jumper 1:42 later and kept the advantage until Whitmire’s free throws with under a minute to play.
Although they didn’t pull ahead until the final minute, the Tornados were helped greatly by a four-point possession after a Bulldog technical foul. With the score 52-47 at the 5:06 mark, Whitson was fouled while shooting by Davis, who then had words for the officials and received a technical as a result. Andrew Freeman (Asheville, N.C.) stroked the two technical shots and Whitson hit the two from the initial foul to draw the Tornados within one and put momentum in the Brevard camp.
“I am very proud of how we played tonight,” Brevard coach Michael Jones said in his postgame comments. “Our guys work very hard on both ends of the floor and do a great job listening to instruction. I am glad they could win this one tonight.”
Whitson led all players with 18 points and ten rebounds, while Chilton and Johnson (who only had 11 career points coming into the game) each added 11 points. Wingate was led by Vaughn, who scored 13 points, and Mattox chipped in 11.
The Tornados hit the road for the first time in five games with a Wednesday trip to Jefferson City, Tenn. and Carson-Newman College. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. The Bulldogs return to the floor Wednesday with a home game against Mars Hill.