PORTSMOUTH - When looking at the final box score from Thursday night's game, the 15 points Ian Nixson scored pale in comparison to a career-high 36 from Jeremy Bennington. However, those fans in attendance could tell you that those 36 points would be an empty stat without the 15 points, specifically the final three, as Nixson put one of the final daggers in (RV) Georgetown (14-5, 6-5 MSC) to allow No. 24 Shawnee State (12-7, 8-3 MSC) to escape with the 87-85 win in overtime.
That basket came with 18 seconds remaining and gave the Bears an 86-85 lead. After a jumper didn't fall for the Tigers, Tyler Morgan was right there for the defensive rebound like he was all night as he finished with a game-high 16 rebounds. He was fouled with 3.7 seconds on the clock and would make the second of two free throws to put his team up two. In its final possession, Georgetown went for the game-tying basket and was again denied, sending the Bears to the victory. The dramatic finish capped off an overtime session that saw five lead changes in the five minutes. The contest was also the second straight overtime games played between the two squads and reversed the outcome of the previous contest.
The first half saw the score tied on four different occasions but also witnessed the Bears leading by as many as 10 during the opening 20 minutes. The 10-point lead came in the final minute of first half. A Georgetown three in the final possession would cut that lead to seven at the break, 36-29. Georgetown would also score the first nine points of the second half to tie the game and eventually take a two-point lead.
That was just be a taste of things to come as momentum swings were a common theme in the second half. Contrary to the first half when Shawnee State held the lead for large portions of the play, the second half saw the Tigers have the upper hand on the scoreboard for most of those 20 minutes. However, Shawnee State would never let them get too far ahead as the biggest lead that Georgetown held was six points, 71-65, with 4:34 to play.
Bennington would start the new momentum swing in the Bears' favor with a jumper to cut the lead to four. After a defensive stop, Bennington tried to cut the deficit to one. His shot was off the mark but Tyler Boyles was in perfect position for the offensive rebound and the put back to halve the lead to a pair.
Two possessions later, Deondre McWhorter was whistled for the offensive charge. McWhorter didn't agree with offensive foul call and was charged with a technical. Nixson would make 1-of-2 shooting the technicals and after getting the ball back Bennington would get the offensive rebound in the paint and got the second opportunity to go, putting the Bears up by one with 2:42 to play.
Georgetown answered right back with a jumper and the teams would trade free throws to keep the deficit at one with 2:22. Points were hard to come by over the final two-plus minutes as the next point came by the Tigers at the free throw line with 41 seconds to play in the half. With 22 seconds to play, Bennington got to the free throw line and made 1-of-2 and the Bears had to foul. Georgetown also made 1-of-2 and that gave the Bears a shot to tie.
Once again, the offense went through Bennington and he would get back to the line with just five ticks left on the clock. The Tigers' coaching staff tried to ice the shooter but Bennington would have none of that as he stepped to the line and knocked down both of his attempts to tie the game. After a missed three on short time, the two sides were headed to extra time tied at 75.
The teams would find themselves tied at 80 with 2:36 to play. Bennington would give the Bears a three-point lead on the next possession while the Tigers answered with a jumper. On their next possession, Georgetown would force the final tie of the night, 83-83, with 1:29 to play after a free throw.
After two missed free throws by the Bears, Georgetown took a two-point lead with 35 seconds to go with a jumper in its offensive end. When things were beginning to look bleak, Nixson reignited the crowd with the game-winning three that would eventually propel his team to victory.
In addition to his 15 points, Nixson finished with a game-high seven assists against just two turnovers. Morgan added another double-double to his conference-leading total with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Boyles also added 10 points in the win. Andrew Devlin pulled down 13 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots.
Men's basketball will now turn its attention to St. Catharine this Saturday. That game will also be at home and is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip.