The Spring Hill College men's basketball team saw an 18-point lead in the 1st half dissolve into 90-87 overtime loss to Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) West Division leader and 6th-ranked William Carey University Crusaders at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center on Saturday evening.
Spring Hill was hitting on all cylinders to open the game and built out a 12-point advantage by the 10 minute mark of the 1st half before taking as much as a 45-27 lead with 1:49 left in the period.
The Crusaders (15-2, 8-0 SSAC West) regained the momentum early the 2nd half with a suffocating defense that cut the SHC lead down to 68-60 with nine minutes to play.
Kelvin Nixon made a 2-point bucket at 6:04 to give the Crusaders their first lead of the contest at 74-73 and it appeared the Badgers had wilted under the high-pressure defense of the visitors from Hattiesburg, Miss., when Nixon made it a 6-point game with two free throws at the 2-minute mark.
Then freshman point guard Ben Redman of Spanish Fort, Ala., drained a bucket that was followed by a layup from junior forward Alex Looney from Mobile and the Badgers were right back in the game with 29 seconds left and trailing just 82-80.
Jeremiah Dunnings of Carey made 1-of-2 free throws on the other end to make it a 3-point bulge, but sophomore SHC guard Robert Drummond of Fairhope, Ala., was the beneficiary of a goaltending call simultaneous with a foul by Guy Payne of the Crusaders. Drummond calmly sank the bonus free throw to tie the game with just 14.1 seconds showing to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the Badgers held an 87-86 lead with 1½ minutes left, but Payne put the Crusaders up 88-87 with a bucket at 1:06 and Daron Bell stepped into a passing lane for a crucial Carey steal with 6 seconds to go. Dunnings made it 90-87 with two free throws at 4 seconds showing and Drummond could not get off a final game-tying 3-pointer as the final horn sounded.
Five Badgers reached double-digit scoring led by Looney with 19 followed by junior guard Robert Gipson with 13 points. Drummond and sophomore forward Frederick Gatson had 11 each and freshman guard Jackson Fos tallied 10 points. SHC shot 47.7% (31-65) overall and was 38.5% (10-26) from 3-point distance, but suffered 29 turnovers against 16 steals by Carey.
Nixon score 25 points for Carey and Bell added 21 points with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Crusaders were 43.1% (31-72) from the floor and 31.3% (5-16) in 3-point attempts while turning the ball over 22 times in the face of 12 Badger steals. Carey out-rebounded the Badgers by a 47 to 40 margin.
Spring Hill (3-16, 2-6 SSAC West) will next host the Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) Warhawks (5-8, 4-3 SSAC West) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.