Greeneville, Tenn. - Ryson Felder clinched a back-and-forth affair between the Brevard Tornados and the Tusculum Pioneers on Thursday evening with a pair of free throws with 1.5 seconds left on the clock as the Tornados escaped Pioneer Arena with the 77-72 victory.
Vincent Dombrowski tied a Brevard (4-2, 2-0 SAC) school record with seven three-pointers in the contest on his way to scoring a game-high 26 points as the Tornados won their first contest after the holiday break. Dombrowski was eight of 12 from the floor and seven of 11 from behind the arc in leading the Tornados shot 44.0 percent (22-50) from the floor and 48.0 percent (12-25) from behind the arc in their fourth consecutive win after starting the season 0-2.
Tommy Klempin led the Tusculum (4-8, 1-1 SAC) comeback in the second half, scoring 16 of his team-high 18 points, including a perfect eight for eight from the free throw line as Tusculum erased a 19 point deficit, cutting it all the way back to within four points with 13 seconds left on the clock, but it wasn’t enough as the Pioneers fell for the first time in conference action.
Schauss opened up the scoring in the first half, continuing his hot streak from behind the arc as the sophomore connected on his first three-point attempt of the game to put the Tornados up 3-0. Jumpers by Steigerwald and Troutman sandwiched a three-pointer by Dombrowski as the Tornados held the 6-4 lead in the early going.
Dombrowski’s early three-pointer was the start of a huge first half for the junior forward as he scored 10 of the Tornados first 15 points of the game, connecting on three of four from behind the arc and added a free throw to pace the Tornados offense as Brevard built a 15-6 lead with 12:20 remaining in the opening period.
The lead expanded to 11 as the Tornados hit a pair of baskets in transition as Roper connected on a short jumper before Ryson Felder hit a three-pointer off the assist from Hendrix to push the Tornados up 20-9. The Pioneers responded with a 6-0 run over their own covering the next four minutes as Matt Darnell connected on a pair of layups and J.D. Miller scored a basket, but a long three-pointer by Hendrix ended the run at the 6:20 mark as Brevard held the 23-15 advantage.
A fastbreak layup by Roper would give the Tornados their largest advantage of the first half at 14 points as Brevard went up 33-19 with 2:41 remaining in the opening period. Troutman and Hendrix would swap three-pointers to put the score at 36-22 before Tusculum closed out the half with a 6-2 spurt capped by a Miller baby hook shot in the lane with two seconds remaining in the half as the teams went into the locker room with Brevard leading 38-28.
The Tornados came out of the gates on fire in the first half, connecting on 56.0 percent (14-25) of their shots in opening period and seven of 12 from behind the arc, led by Dombrowski with a team-high 10 points. Tusculum was led by Troutman’s 10 points in the first half, while shooting 45.8 percent (11-24) from the floor and holding the 14-12 rebounding edge in the first 20 minutes.
A pair of Roper free throws opened up the scoring in the second half and he added a short jumper before Dombrowski took over again from outside, connecting on three-pointers on three consecutive Brevard possessions as the Tornados went up by their largest lead of the contest at 51-32 as his third three-pointer off the assist from Schauss put the Tornados up by 19 with 15:01 left on the clock.
Tusculum’s defense would bring the Pioneers back in the contest as the Tornados went cold from the field and turned the ball over three times during the ensuing 11-0 run as a pair of free throws by Tommy Klempin brought the game back to within single digits at 53-45 with 9:38 remaining in the game.
Another Dombrowski three-pointer extended the lead back out to 11, but Tusculum continued to chip away at the lead, bringing the game all the way back to within five points at the 4:18 mark as Klempin scored six straight points to close out the run, hitting four free throws and a layup to put the score at 62-57.
Tusculum kept it within striking distance the remainder of the contest, bringing it all the way back to within four points with 13 seconds remaining in the contest on a Ryan Slusher three-pointer, but the Tornados team combined to shoot 12 of 15 from the free throw line in the last 1:46 of the contest, capped by Felder’s free throws with 1.5 seconds left on the clock as Brevard left Greeneville, Tenn. with the 77-72 victory.
For the game, the Tornados held the 31-28 rebounding advantage with Drew Schauss pulling down a game-high eight rebounds. Josh Roper and Gaither Hendrix were also among the Tornados scoring leaders in the contest as Roper finished the game with 18 points, while Hendrix scored 14.
The Pioneers shot 92.3 percent (12-13) from the free throw line in the second half, led by Klempin’s perfect evening and he was joined in double figures scoring by Rob Troutman and Steigerwald as the duo scored 12 points apiece.
The Tornados are back in action in the new year as the return home to Boshamer Gymnasium on Wednesday, January 5th, as the host Carson-Newman College. Tipoff between the Tornados and the Eagles is set for 8 p.m.