Albany State’s Larry Bullock celebrates after the Rams’ triple-overtime victory against Miles on Saturday. Bullock hit two 3-pointers in a span of 2.3 seconds in the final minute of regulation to send the game into its first overtime. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — By the time a last-second shot by Miles College’s Willie Gray sailed out of bounds to clinch a thrilling, triple-overtime victory for Albany State, ASU’s Larry Bullock and Miles’ Terrance Noel — the heroes at the end of regulation for their respective teams — were both at the end of their benches with five fouls.
Luckily the Rams didn’t need any more heroics at the end of the third overtime.
After two 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation by Bullock to send Saturday’s SIAC game into overtime and several other clutch shots from both teams in 15 minutes of extra time, the Rams survived a game-winning shot attempt at the final buzzer for a 98-97 victory.
Rams coach Chris Cameron stepped out of the locker room following the game drenched in sweat with a look of both fatigue and relief.
“I’m tired,” Cameron said. “I’m tired and just glad we got a win.”
It was a wild game throughout as the winless Bears put up a fight after falling behind by 12 points in the first half but rode Noel, a former Albany Tech and Westover star, to a five-point lead with 1:19 left in regulation.
But that’s when it got wilder.
Bullock sank a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left to pull the Rams to within two points. After an immediate Miles turnover on the in-bounds pass, Bullock hit another 3-pointer 2.3 seconds later to give ASU a 70-69 lead.
And just like the first one, it was nothing but net.
“Both of those shots felt perfect when they left my hand,” Bullock said.
Cameron credited his junior guard for stepping into the spotlight.
“I was telling him all game to be ready,” Cameron said. “He had a lot of opportunities during the game when he turned down those shots and passed it to another option. He was ready, and any time he is wide open and ready, he is going to knock those down. He can get hot quick.”
With 8.7 seconds left, ASU’s Rachard Lofton had a chance to ice the game at the free throw line with a 3-point lead, but Lofton missed the front end of the 1-and-1, and Noel, who scored a game-high 25 points, sank a game-tying 3-pointer — which bounced around the rim for about two seconds — with 0.4 left to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, Gray hit two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to tie the game, and ASU’s Demetri Wheeler missed a 15-footer on the baseline at the buzzer, sending the thriller into a second overtime.
In overtime No. 2, Miles jumped ahead in the final minute, but ASU’s Gaines hit a put-back layup with 12.6 seconds and a Ty Lollar’s 3-pointer at the buzzer went in and out for Miles with the game tied at 89-89.
ASU quickly got ahead 95-89 in the third overtime with 3-pointers from Bullock and Gaines, but Miles charged back and tied it at 97-97 with 50.9 seconds left. A Lofton free throw with 22.1 seconds left proved to be the difference.
“I told the guys, ‘Way to keep fighting and way to pull it out,’ ” Cameron said. “We didn’t play as well as we needed, but we still won. … I was proud they stayed in there and fought.”
Joe Williams led ASU with 23 points, while Bullock (20 points) and Gaines (17 points, 18 rebounds) also had huge games. Lofton added 13 points, and Wheeler scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
It was a big win for the Rams (5-7, 2-2 SIAC), who will look to get above .500 in the conference Monday at home against LeMoyne-Owen. Miles (0-12, 0-5) stays on the road Monday for a game against Fort Valley State.
ASU women rout Miles for easy SIAC win
ALBANY — Albany State women’s basketball coach Robert Skinner saw his Lady Rams play defense like never before in practice on Friday.
On Saturday he saw them do it again.
In their best defensive outing of the season, the Lady Rams held Miles to 29.3 percent shooting for a 63-40 victory.
“I saw them really getting after each other and going after loose balls in practice (Friday),” Skinner said. “The other thing that we did in practice that was impressive to me was closing off gaps. I was impressed that they did that really well in practice and then came out (Saturday) and brought it to the game.”
Former Crisp County star Keidra Green (13 points) and Kourtney Alexander (10) were the lone Lady Rams to score in double figures. Point guard Mecca Frost added six points and six rebounds, but Skinner said her biggest contribution came on the defensive side.
“If she can control the point guard on the other team, then everybody else can fall in line,” Skinner said about Frost. “She played really well on defense (Saturday).”
ASU (8-3, 3-1) kept pace in the SIAC’s competitive East Division with the victory, while Miles (7-7, 1-3) stayed in second place in a weak West Division.
Lady Cavs fall to Georgia Highlands in OT heartbreaker
ALBANY — Despite a late second-half lead of eight points, the Lady Cavs fell to Georgia Highlands 90-86 in overtime at Cavalier Arena on Saturday.
Darton’s sophomores led the charge and kept a steady yet narrow lead throughout most of the game. Jasmine Wilson scored 26 points, while forwards Iesha Bonner and Kadayasha Jones each had double-doubles. Bonner had 14 rebounds and 15 points, and Jones rebounded 14 and scored 14 points.
But it just wasn’t quite enough for the Lady Cavs, whose leading scorer, Shanae Armbrister, was heavily pressured and held to 10 points, which is half of her season average.
Darton led in OT by as many as four points with only 1:24 remaining. However, Georgia Highlands managed to capitalize on a couple of Darton turnovers to turn the tide.
Darton (14-6, 6-4 Region XVII) saw its five-game winning streak snapped and will play again Saturday at home against Georgia Perimeter.