GC survives double-overtime thriller, 127-122
By Dustin Kent747-5065 | @PCNHDustinKentdkent@pcnh.com
PANAMA CITY - While the women's game couldn't have had much less drama, the Gulf Coast and Alabama Southern men would've been hard pressed to create more than they did. The Commodores outlasted the Eagles 127-122 in a wild, double-overtime thriller Thursday night in the Billy Harrison Field House.
Jeremy Harris had 40 points to lead the Commodores, who improved to 9-2 on the season. The Eagles, led by 31 points from Jeremiah Thornton and 29 from Rutherford alum and former Gulf Coast player Khaliel Spearman, fell to 4-6. Londell King and Will Robinson also had 20 points each for GC.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Commodores, though they took a circuitous route to get to the finish line. Gulf Coast led by 12 in the second half and by nine with 1:18 to play before a furious rally by the Eagles to tie it up on a last-second 3-pointer by Thornton.
Gulf Coast trailed by five in the first overtime but fought back to tie it up on a tip-in by Londell King in the closing seconds. The
Commodores pulled away in the second overtime thanks to a crazy sequence that involved an intentional foul on GC and three separate technical fouls on Alabama Southern players for leaving the bench.
"I'm proud of the men for finding a way," Commodores coach Jay Powell said. "That was good, but honestly I felt like we looked like a team that hadn't played in eight or nine days."
The 6-foot-7 sophomore Harris certainly didn't look rusty, scoring 32 points in regulation and adding eight more in the first overtime, including a clutch 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds on the clock to cut a five-point Eagles' lead to two.
A turnover by Alabama Southern against the press gave Gulf Coast the chance to tie with 7.4 seconds remaining, and Harris' shot from just outside the paint was off the mark, but King was right there in position to put it back with 1.4 seconds on the clock.
King started the second overtime with a three-point play on a hook shot in the lane, but the Eagles fought back to go in front 115-112 after free throws by Spearman and Thornton and a step-back jumper by Thornton with 3:02 to play.
Gulf Coast answered with five straight points to reclaim the lead on a driving basket by Van Johnson with 1:45 remaining. Alabama Southern had a chance to tie less than a minute later when Alonzo Moore got ahead of the defense in transition, but Dontavious Marshall gave a hard foul and was whistled for a flagrant with 56.5 seconds left.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, three players came off of their bench immediately after the foul and were issued technical fouls and ejected from the game. After Moore hit the two free throws from the intentional foul, Robinson shot six free throws - two for each technical - for Gulf Coast and made all six to make it 123-117. Josh Wade and Johnson followed with 4 of 4 free throws in the final minute to help seal the victory.
Powell said it was unfortunate that the game was decided by such a play, but he understands how it could happen.
"It was a wild sequence," he said. "You know you tell your guys that you can't lose your emotions, but I'll give Alabama Southern some credit. It happened 20 feet from their bench and they're young guys who got excited and they ran out on the court. Sometimes kids do things that you've told them not to do. I'm sure their coach, who's a good coach, has told them not to do that, but they did it anyway and it benefited us. It was sort of weird seeing all those free throws, but Will did a good job of creating separation for us."
As unusual as the play was, it was nearly as unlikely that it even came to that. Trailing 91-82 after a jumper by Johnson with 78 seconds to play, Alabama Southern started its rally with a three-point play by Spearman with 1:13 remaining.
After GC starting point guard Dyshane Murphy fouled out with 50.1 seconds left, Spearman made two free throws, and the Commodores turned it over on the ensuing inbounds play and the Eagles capitalized with a 3-pointer from Thornton to make it a one-point game at 91-90 with 44.1 seconds on the clock.
Alabama Southern had a chance to tie the game with 17.2 seconds left and possession and worked the ball around the perimeter until finding Thornton in the left corner for a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds on the clock.
In the first overtime, Daniel Kinchen took over with three 3-pointers and a driving bank shot to put the Eagles up 107-102 with 1:40 on the clock. It was 109-104 with 18.1 seconds left before Harris' big 3-pointer from the right corner to set the stage for King's tying putback.
Gulf Coast will next travel to Ocala for the Florida JUCO Shootout for games against Hillsborough on Saturday and State College of Florida on Sunday.
ALABAMA SOUTHERN (122)
Spearman 9 8-9 29, Flanagain 4 1-1 10, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Kinchen 7 0-0 17, Thornton 10 9-11 31, Davis 3 1-2 7, Colon 1 2-3 4, Blanchard 2 3-4 7, Moore 2 6-6 10, Roberts 0 0-0 0, Stewart 0 1-2 1, Howard 2 1-1 6. Totals: 31 32-39 122.
GULF COAST (127)
Wade 4 3-4 11, King 8 4-8 20, Harris 13 6-10 40, Byrd 2 0-0 6, Murphy 4 3-7 13, Johnson 4 4-6 12, Smoot 1 1-2 3, Robinson 3 14-15 20, Shorter 0 0-0 0, Marshall 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 0-2 0. Totals: 40 35-54 127.
Halftime score - Gulf Coast 48, Alabama Southern 38.
3-point field goals: Gulf Coast 12 (Harris 8, Byrd 2, Murphy 2), Alabama Southern 10 (Spearman 3, Kinchen 3, Thornton 2, Flanagain, Howard). Fouled out: Murphy, Davis, Blanchard. Technical fouls: Colon, Blanchard, Davis.