BREVARD, N.C. – A big night from junior forward Levi Lamb and a monumental last possession defensive stop pushed the Brevard College Tornados Men's Basketball team (4-4, 1-1 USAS) past the Averett Cougars (0-7, 0-1 USAS) in a thrilling USA South Conference matchup late Friday evening at the Boshamer Gymnasium.
The Tornados improve to the .500 mark both overall and in conference play. Brevard, who will now embark on a season-long five game road trip, has played a perfect 3-0 home schedule to open the 2018-19 season.
"Our team showed incredible resolve," stated Head Coach Lee Burgess following Brevard's triumph. "The second half by and large did not go our way, but we were able to make some big plays down the stretch and stuck with it to get over the hump."
Lamb set a new single-game career high mark with an efficient 24-point outing, shooting a remarkable 10-of-14 from the field which included 3-of-4 from long range. Lamb grabbed a game and season-high nine rebounds and swatted four Cougar shot attempts away for a season-high four blocks.
"Levi was great for us all night," added Coach Burgess. "He made a big block at the end to seal it and made some great plays offensively. He threw in a big three with the shot clock expiring late that helped us shift momentum our way."
Freshman center Drew Mosley left his mark on this contest in a big way. Mosley showed great range shooting a perfect 4-of-4 from the 3-point arch. Three of Mosley's long-range connections came in a row, as the Southport, N.C. native drilled back-to-back-to-back attempts to ignite the crowd at the Bosh.
"Drew was great for us off the bench," said Coach Burgess. "4-of-4 from 3-point range was big for us. Someone on our bench has been able to step up huge for us night in and night out, and tonight that was Drew.
Junior guard Qadhafi Turner and senior guard Ke'Vel Kingsberry also turned in double-digit scoring performances for the Tornados. Turner tallied 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, while Kingsberry added 10 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
Both sides played a tight first half with neither able to gain much separation. Tied at 31-31 late in the stanza, a Turner 3-pointer gave Brevard a 34-31 lead. Averett would call a timeout to draw up a final play before the half ended. However, Lamb came up big for the Tornados, stripping the ball free from Harrison Cochran and slamming it down on the other end at the buzzer to send the Tornados into the intermission with a 36-31 advantage.
The Cougars started the second half on fire. After a Lamb 2-pointer extended Brevard's lead to a game-high seven points, Averett utilized a quick 9-0 scoring run to take a 40-38 lead. Vince Contreras, who broke out for a career-high 31 points, scored all nine Averett points during its scoring run.
The two sides would jockey back and forth, but with Averett holding an upper hand propelled by Contreras' strong outing. Averett held two separate six-point leads (15:10, 3:09), with the latter vaulting the Cougars to a 70-64 lead with just 3:09 left in regulation.
Like most great veteran leaders, Lamb stepped in and took things over for his team. Brevard ended the game on an unforgettable 9-0 run to earn a hard-fought victory.
Lamb knocked in the back end of two free throws to cut Averett's lead to 70-65 with 2:51 left. Following a defensive stop, Lamb once again found the bottom of the net to slice Averett's lead to 70-67 with 2:16 remaining.
The Tornados once again made a key defensive stop, forcing Contreras to take a tough, contested shot. Lamb would drill a monumental shot from long distance as the shot clock expired to knot things up at 70-70 with a mere 1:21 remaining.
The Tornados' defensive stalwart Turner picked the pocket of Contreras, which led to a clutch fastbreak layup by senior captain Kingsberry, giving Brevard a slim 72-70 advantage.
Following an Averett timeout, the Tornados' stingy defense once again forced Contreras to take a contested shot, stopping the Cougars' efforts. Turner was fouled and sent to the line, and he converted the back end of his free throw attempts to extend Brevard's lead to 73-70 with only 23 seconds left. Averett called its final timeout on the game's final possession.
Sophomore forward Cannon Lamb made the first emphatic defensive stop for Brevard, blocking a Montre' Cash 3-point attempt. Cash secured his own rebound and dished the ball out to Timothy Henry, who was forced to take an off-balance contested 3-pointer. Levi Lamb, the game's hero, promptly swatted Henry's attempt away to end the game and give the Tornados their fourth win of the season and first conference win.
Brevard as a team recorded a game-high nine steals, causing havoc late in the contest. The Tornados shot a very impressive 58.1% (25-of-43) from the field, which included 10-of-17 from long distance. Both sides matched up evenly in the rebounding column, as both Brevard and Averett recorded 30 boards apiece.
Averett controlled the paint for much of the contest, outscoring Brevard by a 38-24 margin in the paint. Brevard's benched edged out Averett's, outscoring the Cougars by a 22-17 mark. Averett dug itself into foul trouble early in the second half, as the Cougars reached the bonus midway through the second stanza. The game saw nine total lead changes and was tied 10 times.
The Tornados will enjoy a well-deserved nine days off before returning to USA South action. Brevard will travel to LaGrange (4-3, 1-1 USAS) on Sunday, December 16 for a 3 p.m. tip-off.
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