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Pippa Passes, KY: Junior Will Philpot connected on an inside bucket with 9 seconds remaining to lift the undefeated Alice Lloyd College Eagles to an intense 64-62 win over the NAIA’s 23rd ranked squad, the West Virginia Tech Golden Bears. The battle between the top two division leaders in the River States Conference was played Thursday night at the Perry Campus Center.

West Virginia Tech, the NAIA’s 23rd ranked squad came in riding a 14-game win streak and 9-0 conference mark, while Alice Lloyd, who is ranked 24th in the just-released NAIA Power Ratings, came in winners of all 17 contests they played. Both squads average nearly 83 points per game, so something would have to give on this night. Not surprisingly, the large crowd in attendance was treated to a barn burner.

In the first 4:20 of the opening half, the Eagles came out well. Sparked by 5 points from junior guard Bryce Slone, the hosts led 10-5. However, WVT would respond with a 14-3 burst of their own, behind the bombing of guards Andres Jonsson and Gunner Short, to take a 19-13 lead at 10:05. ALC would then answer as Slone bagged back-to-back buckets to rally the troops. After Philpot drained a jumper, the score was knotted once more at 22-22 with 6:57 showing. Over the remainder of the half, the squads traded buckets and the West Virginia team would take a slim 34-33 advantage into the locker room at intermission.

In the second half, the visiting Golden Bears would maintain a small cushion early. Then, with Tech nursing a 46-43 advantage at 11:06, they would proceed to unleash a 9-2 burst in three minutes to take their biggest lead of the night (55-45) with 8:20 on the clock.  Alice Lloyd appeared ready to drop as the club took a timeout.

However, there is no quit in Coach Scott Cornett’s men and the Pippa Passes boys refused to wilt, led by the inspired play of Philpot. First, the forward would sink two free throws at 5:04 to trim the deficit to 57-53. Later, after a driving bucket from teammate Noah Young, Philpot would score inside on a tip-in to bring his club within two (59-57).

WVT would then bag 1-2 free throws (60-57) before sophomore guard Ben Soumahoro scored on a drive and was fouled to bring the squad within one (60-59). He missed the attempt, but ALC would hold on the defensive end.

With just over a minute remaining and the crowd on its feet, Philpot then erupted the house when he coolly drained a 25-foot bomb off an assist from Young. For the first time in over fifteen minutes, Alice Lloyd led (62-60).

Playing from behind, WVT brought the ball down and went to Short. To his credit, he banked in a tough, highly contested shot at .37, to knot the score at 62-62. The Eagles would then call time.

Searching for a good shot and unable to run out the clock, ALC went to senior guard Young, who drove to the paint. His 10-foot runner was off the mark, but sophomore guard Damon Tobler was able to get a hand on the errant shot. The roundball was then snagged by Philpot, who was Johnny-on-the-spot. The burly forward quickly and coolly drained a short jumper with 9.2 remaining in the contest, and the gym exploded as the Caney Creek crew now led 64-62. Tech would then take their last time-out.

On the final possession, West Virginia Tech would go back to Short looking for more magic, but this time, the defense stopped him cold. Soumahoro batted the missed attempt to Slone as time expired, and the crowd went wild.

For ALC (18-0; 9-0 RSC), two players reached double figures. They were led on the night by Philpot with a game-high 16 points (6-8FG; 2-2 3FG; 4-4 FT). He added a game-high 9 rebounds and also had 2 steals, 1 block, and 1 assist. Slone drilled 4-8 shots and scored 12 points in an impressive outing. Tobler added 9 important points, 8 boards, and 2 steals while Soumahoro chipped in with 9 crucial points and 7 rebounds. Young dished out 4 assists to lead all players.

In an intense and defensive battle between two powerful clubs, Alice Lloyd connected on 41.3% (26-63) from the field and 27.3% (3-11) from long range. From the charity line, they sank 64.3% (9-14). Additionally, ALC registered 43 rebounds, 7 steals, and 10 assists.

Tech (17-3; 8-1 RSC) was led by Andrew Work with 14 points. Short and Jonsson added 13 and 12 respectfully, while big Thomas Hailey chipped in with 10.

Their club connected on 39.7% (23-58) from the field and 32% (8-25) from long range. From the foul line, they shot 61.5% (8-13). They also had 35 rebounds, 9 steals, and 14 assists.

The Eagles return to action on Saturday, January 22nd for a huge conference showdown against, Rio Grande University. The Red Storm advanced to the NAIA National Tournament last season and are currently on a 5-game winning streak. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 pm.