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Blake SmithCircleville, OH:  The Alice Lloyd College Eagles opened the 2018 year on January 2 as they battled a solid Ohio Christian University Trailblazers squad on the road in conference play. The Eagles rallied from a 10 point deficit in the final two minutes to tie, only to watch the hosts sink two late free throws to win the game, 79-77.

In the opening half, OCU jumped out to a quick 11-1 lead before the boys from Caney Creek began to battle back. ALC would cut the score to 20-18 with 6:11 remaining on a Blake Smith jumper, only to watch the Trailblazers close the half on a 20-13 run, and take a 40-31 lead at intermission.

In the second half, Alice Lloyd would chip away at the lead and eventually tie things at 60 on a drive by senior guard Austin Crisp at the 9:29 mark.

However, powered by guard Jalen Hearn, Ohio Christian would control the next seven minutes and extend their lead to ten (75-65) with just 2:27 remaining; victory seemed in the bag.

Refusing to quit, however, the Eagles mounted a comeback behind solid pressure defense. First, junior guard Ryan House sandwiched two long bombs around one OCU free throw to shrink the deficit to five (76-71) at 1:22.  Next, after a Trailblazer free throw and turnover, freshman guard Timmy Dalton sank a bucket before helping force another Ohio turnover.  ALC’s Crisp then connected with .57 showing to set the score at 77-75.

Incredibly, on the ensuing possession, Smith made a nifty steal and drove for the game-tying hoop. His shot bounced off but was retrieved by Dalton who knotted things at 77 with .42 remaining.

Looking to regain the advantage, Ohio Christian came down court and fed Hearn, but his quick attempt was short. The Eagles then advanced the ball looking to take the lead but saw their attempt blocked at .07. On the scramble for the loose ball, House was whistled for the foul with just .06 left to play. Trailblazer guard Rael Windley then sank both charity tosses to give his team a two-point edge. Smith would get off a game-tying attempt at the buzzer, but it rimmed out, and the hosts survived.

For ALC (8-5; 2-3 RSC), four players reached double figures. They were led in scoring by sophomore guard Smith who finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds while Crisp and Dalton added 13 and 12 points respectively; each also hauled in 7 boards. Senior center Jake Allen chipped in with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. Crisp and Dalton each added 2 assists. Junior forward Simon Christon added 2 steals as well.

Alice Lloyd shot 38.9% (28-72) from the floor and finished 36.4% (8-22) from behind the arc, but was a disappointing 59.1% (13-22) from the foul line. They also added 44 rebounds, 8 assists, and 7 steals.

OCU, (5-10; 1-3 RSC) was led in scoring by Hearn with 29 points. His club finished shooting 41.5% (27-65) from the floor and 33.3% (10-30) from behind the arc. They shot 75% (15-20) from the foul line, and also added 35 rebounds, 13 assists, and 10 steals.

ALC next returns to action on Friday, January 6th for a big conference showdown at third-ranked Indiana University East. Tipoff is set for 3:00 pm.