Heidelberg hit a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds to send the Wilmington College men's basketball team to a 103-101 loss Saturday in Ohio Athletic Conference action at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
Ironically, two connected free throws were the margin of victory as the Fightin' Quakers had plenty of chances at the free throw line. As a team, Wilmington missed 20 free throws (27-of-47, 57.4 percent), including a pair with 15 seconds in regulation that would have given it a four-point advantage. In contrast, Heidelberg shots 71.4 percent (25-of-35) from the line as 59 fouls were called in the contest.
"One of the things we talked about in the locker room is you have to step up and do your job, and one of our jobs is to make free throws," said Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt. "When you go 27-of-47 from the line, you are basically giving away a game. With that said, we had every chance to win the game. We needed one critical stop at the end of the game, and we didn't get it done."
The missed opportunities enabled the Student Princes to stay alive, and they took full advantage on a lay-up with six seconds remaining. A last second three-pointer by junior D.J. Iles (Fayetteville, OH/Fayetteville Perry) hit the back of the rim and sent the game into overtime.
Heidelberg made six of its seven shots in the extra frame, and scored five of the last seven points to secure the victory.
"We never really executed the game plan," said Hunt. "We let them play to their strengths all game long. They have really good players, and when you let good players play to their strengths – they are hard to guard."
The 'Berg went on a scoring barrage midway through the first half, going on a 24-5 run to take a game-high 14-point lead. They shot 8-of-10 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 beyond the arc during the run.
However, Wilmington started chipping away at its deficit. Back-to-back three-pointers from junior Nathan Scott (Sardinia, OH/Eastern) pulled WC to within six points. Eventually, the work on both ends of the court brought the home team to within one 45 seconds remaining in the half. But, Heidelberg scored the final four points of the half.
It didn't take long for WC to overcome its halftime deficit, and with a quick 7-0 spurt, Wilmington had its largest lead of the game with 13 minutes remaining. Four lead changes and four ties occurred in the final 10 minutes.
For the second straight game, Scott established a career-high – this time with 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He was 6-of-11 from three-point range, and finished with three rebounds, two steals and an assist.
"Nate played fantastic all night long," said Hunt. "He was aggressive, he was tough, and he is playing real good basketball right now."
Wilmington (7-10 overall, 2-8 OAC) travels to league leading Ohio Northern (10-7 overall, 8-2 OAC) 7 p.m. Wednesday. ONU posted the 83-69 win on December 7th.