Late Bucket Buries Bobcats, 71-69

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Lees-McRae senior Darius Smith and freshman Chad Hicks recorded double figures, but Warren Wilson's Ty Johnson hit a jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining to down LMC, 71-69, in nonconference action Thursday evening at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.

The Owls (15-10) used a double-double from Rashad Ali (21 points, 14 rebounds) to extend their win streak to six games. The Bobcats (6-15) saw 10 different players register at least two points, but struggled from long range (2-of-14).

The game remained close as an Avery Wallis (Wilkesboro, N.C.) jumper forced the sixth tie of the first half at 22.

Ali responded with a triple to give the Owls a slim three-point advantage, 28-25.

Freshman Mike Chambers (Winston-Salem, N.C.) capped off a 7-1 run with a three at the 2:27 mark of the first half and gave LMC a 32-29 lead.

Neither team would score the rest of the half while the first 20 minutes saw nine ties.

LMC shot 41.4% from the floor while both teams attempted 10 free throws.

The second half was a duplicate of the opening period while the teams exchanged buckets for the first six minutes.

Smith (Woodbridge, Va.) scored seven consecutive points to extend the Bobcat lead to three, 41-38.

LMC's offense would go cold while not scoring a field goal for over five minutes. Freshman Josh Gaither (Statesville, N.C.) snapped the drought with a layup at the 7:22 mark.

Hicks (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and junior Jacquise Moore (Concord, N.C.) got in the mix while the Bobcats clung to a 65-62 lead.

Gaither connected on another layup to push the lead to five.

The Owls would respond while Justin Gonyea connected on a three before Ali scored four consecutive points to give WWC a 69-67 lead.

Smith was fouled and drained two free-throws with 32 ticks left on the clock to tie the game for the 18th time.

Johnson provided the heroics for Warren Wilson as he connected on the game-winner with 1.3 remaining.

Ali led all scorers while Tyler Triplett chipped in with 14 points.

The Bobcats were led by Smith (18) and Hicks (13) while LMC forced 19 turnovers, including 10 steals. Despite the loss, LMC connected on nine more free throws in the second half (17-8).

Coach Steve Hardin's squad returns to action Saturday with at trip to Due West, S.C. to battle Erskine at 4 p.m.

- LMC -