The Alice Lloyd Eagles saw a 20–point second half lead dwindle away, but still prevailed 69-67 over the Milligan Buffaloes in an exciting matchup played last night at the Grady Nutt Athletic Center.
In the opening half, junior Shawn Thompson came off the bench to provide a big spark for ALC. Thompson sank 4-6 shots including one bucket on an acrobatic, off balance drive to the hoop that brought wild cheers from the crowd. His effort helped the Eagles close the half on a 14-5 run and take a 38-25 lead at intermission.
In the second half, Alice Lloyd came out of the gates looking to put the dangerous Buffaloes away.
After trading points for the first three minutes, Eagle senior Brandon Hayes connected on a bucket from 15 feet, which was followed by freshman Clint Stepp‘s long three–pointer. On the ensuing possession, Stepp deflected the ball toward the sideline and saved it to Thompson with a behind the back pass while sailing out of bounds. Thompson then returned the favor by feeding Stepp on the break for a layup with a behind the back pass of his own. The display of hustle and passing brought a roar from the crowd and helped propel the Eagles to a 20-point lead (51-31) with fourteen minutes remaining.
With their backs against the wall, Milligan responded. Sparked by the long range shooting of guard Jordan Cross, the Buffaloes slowly began to chip away at the deficit over the remainder of the half. At the three–minute mark, Tyler DeVault sank a jumper in the paint, knotting the score at 63.
The Eagles then managed to sink just enough free throws to hold off the visitors, but were forced to hold their breath when Milligan’s Cory Hendron shot a three–pointer for the win just before the buzzer sounded. When the shot bounced harmlessly off the rim, the victory was preserved.
For ALC (5-3), Thompson led the way with 17 points. Joining him in double figures were junior Brent Hall and sophomore Isaac Wilson, each with 10 points. Hall added 7 rebounds while Wilson distributed 5 assists; both were team highs.
Milligan (2-3) was led by Cross with 18 points.
For the game, Milligan outshot the Eagles 50% (27-54) to 37.5% (21-56) and won the battle of the boards 43-29.
ALC, however, won the important free throw battle by sinking 70% (24-34), compared to just 50% (7-14) for the visitors. They also committed just 12 turnovers to Milligan’s 22.