Saturday, December 18, 2010

Royals block last second shot to hold on for 57-56 win over Tusculum

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Daniel Bailey recorded 11 points and blocked the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to lead the Queens University of Charlotte men’s basketball team to a thrilling 57-56 win over visiting Tusculum College Saturday afternoon at the Ovens Athletic Center.

With Queens leading 57-56 with 15 seconds remaining, Reggie Hopkins (Gastonia, N.C.) missed the front end of the one-and-one and TC junior Justin Steigerwald (Cincinnati, Ohio) came down with the rebound.  The Pioneers (4-7) worked for the last shot as Kevin Vest (Dayton, Ohio) found Tommy Klempin on the right-side baseline.  Klempin’s lay-up with one second left was blocked from behind by Bailey (Irmo, S.C.) as the Royals even their record at 4-4 on the season.

Klempin led all scorers with a career-high 19 points as the Reynoldsburg, Ohio junior shot 6-of-10 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the free throw line.  He also hauled in seven rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.  Senior guard Rob Troutman (Mt. Washington, Ky.) finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Steigerwald added eight markers, six assists, one block and two steals.

Hopkins led Queens with 18 points, while Brent Evans (Beaufort, S.C.) and Antonio Stabler (Garner, N.C.) contributed nine and eight markers, respectively.

The game was a “barn-burner” from the very beginning as the lead went back and forth 19 times, while also being tied on eight occasions, including five times in the opening half as the Pioneers led 28-27 at the intermission.

Tusculum led 39-36 with 12:30 remaining in the game following a lay-up by Klempin to cap a 7-2 run.  During the TC spurt, Klempin posted a pair of buckets, while sophomore Matt Darnell (Stafford, Va.) knocked down his sixth straight 3-pointer to open the season.

Queens followed with 5-0 run, including a three-pointer by Preston Newlin (Graham, N.C.) as the Royals regained the lead at 41-39 with 11:04 left in the game.  TC redshirt freshman Ryan Slusher (Knoxville, Tenn.) answered with a three-pointer, but Newlin followed with a three of his own to make the score 44-42 Queens with 10 minutes left.

Both teams would go scoreless for the next 3:30 before Troutman came up with an offensive put-back for Tusculum to knot the game at 44-44 for the eighth and final tie of the afternoon.

The Royals scored seven straight, including five points by Hopkins as Queens enjoyed its largest lead of the fray at 51-44 with 4:38 remaining.  Tusculum answered with a three-pointer by Troutman and a steal and a lay-up from Steigerwald as the Pioneers trailed 51-49 with two minutes left.

Hopkins and Evans connected on a pair of free throws each, while Steigerwald knocked down a pair and Klempin converted a lay-up as the Royals held a 55-53 advantage with 1:08 on the clock.

On the next possession, the Tusculum defense held in forcing a missed three-pointer and a turnover.  Klempin was fouled with 28 seconds remaining as he converted one of the two free throws to trim the deficit to 55-54.  Hopkins was fouled on the inbounds pass as he made his two free throws, while Steigerwald was also hacked as he calmly made his two free throws with 16.1 seconds remaining to make the score 57-56 to set the stage for the final exciting moments of the game.

Both teams shot well from the foul line as Queens went 11-of-13 (84.6%), while Tusculum shot 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the charity stripe.  Tusculum won the rebound battle by a margin of 33-20, including 11-7 on the offensive boards.  The Royals forced 20 turnovers on a dozen steals, including a game-high four by Brandon Nichols (Fayetteville, N.C.).

After the Christmas break, the Pioneers will return to South Atlantic Conference play on Dec. 30 when they host defending SAC Tournament champion Brevard College for a 7 p.m. contest at Pioneer Arena.

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