Junior Christian Jones connected on a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to lift the Wilmington College men's basketball team to the 68-66 non-conference victory over Trine Thursday at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
Trine scored 10 straight points late in the second half to pull even with 2:25 remaining, but junior Nathan Scott (Sardinia, OH/Eastern) gave WC the lead back a minute later. Then, things got a little hairy for the Fightin' Quakers.
The Thunder missed a pair of free throws, but a foul on the rebound gave the visitors another shot to pull even. However, Trine split a pair of free throws, and once again a foul was called on the rebound to send the Thunder back to the charity stripe. This time, it split another pair to pull even.
Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt had a simple explanation to how his team blew a 10-point lead in less than five minutes.
"Very simple; we stopped attacking," said Hunt. "When you stop attacking and playing not to lose, you are going to let teams back into the game. I thought we just let our guard down and didn't play with the same intensity level. Thankfully we were able to hold on and make enough plays to win the game."
Wilmington called a timeout to set up the winning play, and the Fightin' Quakers executed their plan to perfection.
"We were trying to Christian a touch in the corner with a couple of different options, but we definitely wanted to get him a touch going downhill and he did a great job of being aggressive," said Hunt.
Jones (Hamilton, OH/Hamilton) was tripped as he entered the paint, and calmly sank the game winner.
The teams traded spurts in the first half with Trine riding the hot shooting of leading scorers Kyle Dodson and Will Dixon. The duo combined for 31 of the team's 37 points over the first 20 minutes, but it was Scott's tip-in at the buzzer that enabled the Fightin' Quakers to take the lead at halftime.
A defensive tweak allowed WC to slow down the Trine duo in the second half, holding them to 10 points.
"We talked about how we were guarding back screens and screening action in general," said Hunt. "(Dodson) does a great job of getting open and we just made a few adjustments. Our guys were more conscious of where he was on the floor, and that was the key to us winning the game; limiting Dodson and Dixon in the second half."
It marked the second consecutive game in which Wilmington made plays down the stretch to secure the win. Despite the 10-day layoff, the Fightin' Quakers didn't lose their edge over the holidays.
"I thought our energy level was great," said Hunt. "We had some guys really step up and make shots. We were more selective in the three's we took. Nate (Scott) made a ton of big plays in the second half, Noah (Chatman) was really a competitor and of course, Christian made those free throws when it mattered."
Scott led the team in scoring, reaching double figures for the fourth time this season, with 16 points and a team-high tying six boards. Jones added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. It was the sixth time in seven games Jones has scored at least 10 points.
Freshman Noah Chatman (Goodluttsville, TN/ Beech) continued his steady rookie season with 12 points and four rebounds. Sophomore Kevin Lewis (Cincinnati, OH/Clark Montessori) also pulled down a team-high tying six rebounds.
Wilmington (5-6 overall, 0-4 OAC) returns to Ohio Athletic Conference action 7 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Capital (8-3 overall, 3-1 OAC).