With just 25 seconds remaining, senior center Maurice Lewis-Briggs sank two free throws to put the Slippery Rock men’s basketball team up 72-71 over Seton Hill University Wednesday night.
Seton Hill nearly responded but the final buzzer rang before they could tip the ball in following a missed three-pointer, leaving the final score at 72-71.
“Our adrenaline was running and we knew we needed a stop to win the game,” Lewis-Briggs said. “We had to do what we do best and that’s play defense.”
The win improved SRU’s record to 15-4, keeping them in first place of the PSAC-West with a 6-1 division record.
During a Seton Hill timeout in between Lewis-Briggs’s two free throws, Slippery Rock head coach Kevin Reynolds decided to make Lewis-Briggs, redshirt senior forward Tabari Perry and redshirt sophomore forward Erik Raleigh his front line for the final seconds of the game.
“It was a good scramble by the defense but we got lucky,” Reynolds said. “An extra second and a half or two seconds and they would’ve tipped the ball in. The game isn’t 40 minutes and two seconds though; it’s 40 minutes and we did what we had to do in that time.”
Seton Hill managed to sink 17 out of 20 free-throw attempts while Slippery Rock made 9 of 12.
“We didn’t make it to the line enough,” Reynolds said. “We were 11 for 23 in three-point shots and it’s good that we’re shooting them well but we still need to make it to the line for those shots.”
Lewis-Briggs finished the game with 18 total points and was three for six from the free-throw line.
With the potential to take the lead after being fouled near the end of the game, Lewis-Briggs knew the importance of his two shots.
“I knew that my team needed me,” Lewis-Briggs said. “I had to make those shots.”
Junior guard Matej Delinac and senior guard Josh Martin both scored 13 points for the Rock, while Perry scored 10.
The Rock finished with a 41-22 advantage in rebounds, 26-18 advantage in the paint and a 14-2 advantage in second-chance points.
The win keeps Slippery Rock in first place of the PSAC-West but they head to division-rival Indiana University of Pa. (15-2, 5-2) this Saturday night.
Since the 1991-1992 season, the team has not defeated the Crimson Hawks in their own venue.
“In their gym we won last year against East Stroudsburg and a few years ago we defeated Cheyney there,” Reynolds said. “IUP is obviously a very good team. We need to play our style of basketball there and we haven’t been able to do that in a long time.”
Slippery Rock currently holds a one-game advantage over IUP for first place of the PSAC-West.
The high-stakes game tips off at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.