Game of the Year: Basketball mounts a comeback
On Jan. 23, the Spalding University (Ky.) men’s basketball team traveled to Webster University with the hope of staying undefeated in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). Coming into the game, the Gorloks had lost three straight to the Golden Eagles.
The Gorloks defeated the Golden Eagles 58-57 when they scored ten unanswered points in the final five minutes of the game. The win catapulted the Gorloks to a share for first place in the SLIAC standings. Webster freshman guard Hunter Ward said the game was a motivational stepping stone for an eventual NCAA tournament berth for the Gorloks.
With 18 seconds remaining, Ward blocked a baseline jumper from Spalding forward William Barber that went into the hands of Webster freshman guard Jonathan Odjo. The block gave the Gorloks an opportunity to knock off the Eagles for the first time in conference play.
“I thought it was the loudest that Grant Gymnasium has ever been,” Ward said. “I just turned around (after the block) and everyone was just screaming like crazy. It was nuts. I was really just pumped up and excited because I knew that set the tone for the last 15 seconds.”
Webster trailed by one when Spalding junior guard Brandon Gabriel threw Webster senior center Jarrod Huskey to the ground as the two fought to get a rebound off junior guard Ahmad Smith’s jumper. Gabriel committed the foul with four seconds remaining and caused Huskey to grab his left wrist in pain. Huskey left the game, and the Golden Eagles selected senior guard Hollis Edwards to take Huskey’s free-throws.
Edwards, who was shooting 60.8 percent from the free-throw line, drained two shots and completed the Gorlok comeback. Webster Head Men’s Basketball Coach Chris Bunch said Spalding Coach Kevin Gray selected Edwards because he had the lowest free-throw percentage of any player on the court.
“He (Edwards) focused and stepped up,” Bunch said. “He’s been there many times before. He was able to block off all the distractions (and) made both free throws.”
The Gorloks and the Golden Eagles exchanged leads four times in the first half. The Golden Eagles went into the locker room leading Webster 33-29.
In the second half, the Golden Eagles and Gorloks continued exchanging points. Webster cut the lead down to two points with eight minutes remaining, but four straight three pointers from Spalding put Webster in a 10-point deficit.
Then the comeback began. Three turnovers Wand six consecutive missed shots from the Golden Eagles allowed the Gorloks to pull ahead with four left.
“There was never a doubt in our mind we were going to lose that game,” Ward said. “We were going to win it no matter what.”