The message in the timeout was clear, and the execution was flawless.
"In that particular situation, it was about a four-minute war," said Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt. "We do those situations in practice all the time. It's about winning the four-minute war, doing things that aren't out of character; make easy plays, fly around on the defensive end and thankfully we were able to make winning plays at winning time. That is how you win college basketball games."
When the dust cleared, the Wilmington College men's basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak Monday with a 69-65 non-conference win over Thomas More in Fred Raizk Arena at Hermann Court.
Following the timeout with the game tied for the ninth time, junior Christian Jones (Hamilton, OH/Hamilton) drilled a three-pointer with 1:24 remaining and Wilmington never relinquished the lead.
"It's something we hadn't run before; really a couple times we put some things in on a fly, and it's a testament to how dialed in mentally we were tonight to be able to execute stuff from the huddle and get it done on the court," Hunt said about the play.
Sophomore Will Patrick (Chester, PA/Pickerington Central (OH)) made the two plays down the stretch to seal the victory. First, he penetrated the paint and found freshman Noah Chatman (Goodlettsville, TN/Beech) for a layup with 33 seconds pushing WC's lead back to three, and then he had a weak side block with 22 seconds to keep Thomas More off the board.
"That was a real big-time block, and Will is such a competitor," said Hunt. "When the game is on the line he is a guy that is going to make plays."
Sophomore Andrew Russell (Columbus, OH/Central Crossing) put the game away with one free throw with nine seconds left.
The first half was a game of runs that culminated with the Saints taking a two-point lead into the locker room.
Thomas More scored the first seven points and held the advantage until WC went on an 18-6 spurt to take a five-point advantage. Wilmington's lead hovered around five until the Saints scored nine straight late in the half for the four-point lead. Junior Nathan Scott (Sardinia, OH/Eastern) hit a pair of free throws to trim the WC deficit to two at the break.
The two teams could never go on a run in the second half to put the other team away as Wilmington's biggest lead was the four-point final score and Thomas More's biggest lead was four points after it scored the first basket of the second half.
Scott scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the first half. He added five rebounds, one assist and one block.
Jones finished with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Chatman added 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block. Russell added a team-high seven boards, a career-high three blocks and five points, while Patrick dished out a career-high four assists with eight points, one rebound, one block and one steal.
Wilmington (4-6 overall) will have a 10-day break before returning to the court 3 p.m. Thursday, December 29, hosting Trine in non-conference action.