Bobcats blow by Crusaders, 76-61, in overtime thriller

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- BJ Battle (Orlando, Fla.) scored nine of his game-high 18 points, and the Lees-McRae College men's basketball team put together a 16-0 run in overtime en route to a 76-61 victory over North Greenville University in Conference Carolinas play on Tuesday night in Williams Gymnasium.

With the win, Lees-McRae (9-16, 8-8 CC) clinches its best-ever league record as a Conference Carolinas member, including a stellar 6-2 mark at home against conference opponents. Lees-McRae has enjoyed its most successful season under the guidance of head coach Scott Polsgrove, posting nine wins thus far while clinching the third seed in the league's West Division.

The Bobcats posted a field goal percentage of 45.2 percent on the night, including an 85.7 percent clip in overtime, while holding North Greenville (12-13, 5-11 CC) to a mark of 37.5 percent from the floor. North Greenville won the battle on the glass by a 43-37 margin, including a 14-6 advantage on the offensive boards, as Lees-McRae converted 17 Crusader turnovers into 23 points.

Battle knocked down 6-of-13 shots from the floor on the night, pouring in a game-high 18 points as Jeremiah Henry (Semmes, Ala.) added a double-double with 10 markers and 12 rebounds. Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) chipped in 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, as Asad Lamot (Mebane, N.C.) added game-highs of six assists and five steals. DeAndre Tillman (Charlotte, N.C.) also posted 10 points and two blocked shots on the night to move within one block of a tie for fourth in program-history.

Paul Harrison led the way for North Greenville with a double-double, pouring in 17 points to go along with game-highs of 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. Zack Shields added a game-high 18 points, as Jason Wray chipped in 11 markers and a contest-best six assists.

The Bobcats opened the game with a 12-7 run, capping the spurt on a pair of Tillman freebies at the 15:37 mark. After North Greenville evened the tally at 14-14 on a Shields triple with 13:15 to go in the period, Lees-McRae responded with a 10-4 run to take a 24-18 advantage on a three-pointer by DJ Brown (Anderson, S.C.) at the 9:30 mark.

North Greenville would answer with a 16-4 run, surging to a 34-28 halftime lead on a Harrison layup and a freebie by Wesley Armburst with less than two minutes to go in the period. The Bobcats responded in the second half, opening the period with a 13-7 run to knot the score at 41-41 on a jumper by Henry with 14:51 to play.

The Crusaders would hold a narrow advantage for much of the next 10 minutes until Sepokas answered the call for Lees-McRae, knocking down a clutch jumper with less than five minutes left on the clock to give the Bobcats a narrow 54-53 lead.

The teams traded baskets in each of the next three possessions, as Sepokas converted a pair of free throws with at the 2:50 mark to give the Bobcats a narrow 58-57 advantage before a Harrison freebie sent the contest into overtime.

Lees-McRae stormed out of the gate in the extra period, taking a 67-61 lead on a three-point play by Battle before Tillman added an exclamation point to the evening with an emphatic fast-break throw-down with 2:15 left on the clock to give the Bobcats a 69-61 advantage.

Following a nifty lay-in by Sepokas at the 1:04 mark, the Bobcats closed out the win by knocking down 5-of-6 free throws in the last 42 seconds to equal the final margin of 76-61, and wrap up their regular season heading into next week's conference tournament.

Lees-McRae now awaits the announcement of the final pairings for next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament to learn when and where its season will continue.

- LMC -