Down by four with 30 seconds remaining in overtime, Francois Lewis hit a three-pointer with 23 second left, Chris Martin stole the subsequent inbounds pass and threw it to Lewis, who was fouled on the shot attempt. He then converted three free throws with less than a second left to seal the 103-101 thrilling Big South win over Gardner-Webb Saturday evening at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C. Lewis led the team with 29 points, with Davon Bell close behind with 21. The 15 wins is the most by PC in its Division I history.
Scoring the Game
A battle in the first half, PC led at one point by six, 21-15 at the 11-minute mark, helped by back to back three-pointers from Romeo Crouch and Cody Shubert. It was short-lived as Gardner-Webb came back with eight unanswered to take the one-point lead. It was the start of a 20-6 run that saw the Runnin’ Bulldogs hit five straight threes and take an eight-point lead, 35-27, 4:22 on the clock. It was PC’s turn next, as the Blue Hose used a 12-3 run over the next three and a half minutes to retake the lead, 39-38, 1:08 to go. GWU closed out the half with a basket and free throw to head into the locker room leading 41-39.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs were able to increase their lead to five on a couple of occasions early in the second half, but couldn’t get a foothold. Trailing by three with 16:24 on the clock, Cory Hightower hit back to back baskets to five PC a one-point lead, 15:52 left. Jaheam Cornwall hit a three to put GWU ahead by two but another Hightower layup, his third in a row, tied the game, 53-53, 14:52 to go. It was the first of 10 ties as both teams battled back and forth.
Gardner-Webb would take a 67-62 lead at 8:43 off a 7-2 run but PC was quick to respond with a run of its own, this one also a 7-2 clip to tie the game again, 69-69, 6:36 to go. That would be the largest lead by either team the remainder of the half, the largest from then on at four by GWU.
1:54 to go, Gardner-Webb took a three-point lead off a Jose Perez layup. What followed was a three-pointer by Crouch and three points from Davon Bell to flip the script, putting PC ahead by three with just a minute left. It looked like PC would hold on but David Efianayi was fouled on a three-point attempt with 10 seconds left and hit all three free throws to send the game into overtime.
Tied on two separate occasions in overtime GWU hit two free throws and Perez added a basket to give the visitors a four-point lead, 99-95, 1:14 left. Lewis took it down to two on a couple of free throws but Gardner-Webb responded with two to erase the PC gains. Those would be the final Gardner-Webb points as Lewis hit a three-pointer to cut the margin to just one with 23 second left. Chris Martin stole the GWU inbounds pass and passed to Lewis, who was then fouled with less than a second remaining on a three-point attempt. He hit all of his free throws to seal the 103-101 win.
Players of the Game
Francois Lewis led the Blue Hose with seven rebounds and 29 points, scoring 10 of the team’s 13 points in overtime. Davon Bell added 21 points and eight assists. Cory Hightower added 16 points and seven rebounds, with Adam Flagler recording 13 points on the night. David Efiayani led Gardner-Webb with 26 points, with Jose Perez finishing with 23. D.J. Laster added nine rebounds.
Stats of the Game
A fairly even and explosive scoring output from both teams, Gardner-Webb came away with the shooting percentage advantage, 56.1%-52.2%. PC hit 25 free throws and 12 three-pointers, compared to 19 and 12, respectively for GWU. The Blue Hose were edged in rebounds, 31-32, and had five fewer turnovers, 12-17, but scored 10 more points out of it, 23-13.
- Francois Lewis finished with a career-high five assists.
- First overtime game for PC since a 68-74 OT loss at Radford Feb. 18, 2018.
- Cory Hightower’s .889 field goal percentage tied for fourth in the PC DI record book.
- PC’s 33 field goal attempts and 103 points tied for seventh, while the 69 field goals attempted tied for 10th in the PC DI record book.
- The 15 wins is most in PC’s Division I history.
For the Record
PC improves to 15-11 overall and 6-4 in the Big South, while Gardner-Webb drops to 15-10, 5-5.
The Blue Hose are next in action at Winthrop Wednesday, Feb. 13. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., and will be televised live on ESPN+.