College Hoops: Storm squeak by Dolphins
Playoff time is weeks away for Davidson County Community College, but Wednesday's New Year's Day tilt with Brunswick Community College had the feel of a district final.
Playing its fourth NJCAA Division I opponent of the season, the Storm made 15 second-half free throws and came away with just enough stops to upend the Dolphins 84-82 in front of a packed house at Brinkley Gymnasium.
“We made just enough plays,” said Davidson head coach Matt Ridge. “At times we shot the ball really well and we needed to tonight.”
The visiting Dolphins led by former Central Davidson standout Chris Pompey (17 points), found themselves down 36-32 at the half, but had the game at a pace it liked. DCCC averages more than 100 points a night, but were on track to finish in the 70s.
Brunswick immediately tied the game scoring the first four points of the second half, and later took a 41-40 lead on an offensive rebound and layup by Cam Jones. A C.J. Woodberry tip-in reversed the lead, but seconds later DCCC was dealt a huge blow with Woodberry taking a trip to the bench with his fourth foul and 15:30 still remaining.
At a huge height disadvantage in the paint, the Storm did enough as a team to make up for the loss. Marquel Newkirk provided positive minutes, making a pair of baskets to tie the score at 54-all.
A huge swing in the game came with just under 8:30 left. Brunswick had cut a five-point deficit to one, when Newkirk was fouled under the basket. Kalil Stuart thought it was a clean play and argued the call before receiving a technical. It turned into a four-point trip as Newkirk hit the free throws for the foul and Robert Story connected on the technical pitches.
Montez Loman got the Dolphins back on track with two scores in the lane, but they were answered by six points from Newkirk to widen the gap to seven.
“Marquel is tough and strong,” said Ridge. “I started him because he had a great practice yesterday in terms of energy. He plays bigger than he is and he did just that tonight.”
Davidson (9-3) would never lose the lead, but the Dolphins were right on their heels. A steady rally ended with Najee Pritchett nailing a 3-pointer to make it a 83-82 game with 14.8 ticks left.
On the inbounds play after the timeout, Ace Chalmers made a tough catch and was fouled. He hit one of the two, leaving the Dolphins a chance of tying or taking the lead. They called Pompey out to receive the ball near midcourt, but he lost the handle and Woodberry recovered before being fouled. The door remained open as the forward missed both free throw attempts. Brunswick scurried down the floor with 4.8 seconds left. Pritchett hoisted up a good look from the wing behind the arc, but the ball was long and hit back rim before falling to the hardwood.
“At the end of the day we beat a very good Division I college team and this is something we should be able to build on and build confidence going into conference play next week,” said Ridge.
Notes: Story hit five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 20 points … Gerry Hairston added 18 more for the Storm and Newkirk had 14 … After shooting only four free throws first half, DCCC made 15-of-24 second half … Davidson went 2-2 against Division I opponents.