Men’s basketball: Tribe comes back to down St. Joseph’s in last-minute thriller, 87-85

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

With time winding down in Saturday, Nov. 24’s contest against St. Joseph’s and the score knotted at 85, William and Mary junior forward Nathan Knight caught the ball on the block. He took two dribbles with his right hand, then spun back to his left, banking a hook shot softly off the backboard and in with 1.7 seconds to play. Knight’s bucket would stand as the game-winner, helping the Tribe (2-4) claim an 87-85 come-from-behind victory over the Hawks (3-3).

“We needed to break through against a tough schedule,” head coach Tony Shaver said to Tribe Athletics. “We beat a great basketball team today … what a courageous comeback.”

Earlier in the afternoon, it did not look as if the game would come down to the last possession.  The Tribe jumped out to a quick lead, but the Hawks would soon take control of the first half. Knight scored six of his team-leading 21 as the College took a 9-4 edge early, and that five-point advantage would be the largest of the game for the Tribe. From there, St. Joseph’s forward Charlie Brown, Jr. put on a show. Brown scored 23 of his game-high 37 in the half as the Hawks charged ahead to a 14-point lead at the break.

After leading 49-35 at the half, the Hawks extended their lead to as much as 20 points. Guard Lamarr Kimble made two free throws for St. Joseph’s to make the score 59-39 with 17:04 left in the game and the College’s offense sputtering.

It was then that freshman guard Chase Audige and junior forward Justin Pierce sparked the Tribe. Pierce started the comeback with two free throws, while Audige scored 13 to lead a 27-9 run, cutting the Hawks lead to 68-66. Freshman guard LJ Owens completed the comeback with a trey, giving the College a 72-70 advantage with 8:33 to go in the game.

“I thought Chase Audige was incredible today,” Shaver told Tribe Athletics. “LJ Owens had some big baskets for us. … I’ll have to change my phrase. I’ve often said that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores, but the best thing about these freshmen today is that they were on my team.”

With a little more than a minute left, Kimble knocked down two free throws to hand St. Joseph’s an 85-82 lead. The next possession, Audige took a dribble, stepped back behind the three-point line and buried a game-tying jumper from downtown. The College would get a stop on the next play, setting up Knight’s heroics.

“This is a team that doesn’t execute a lot of times,” Shaver said to Tribe Athletics. “But, the last play, they executed extremely well. We had a couple options we wanted to look for.”The Tribe is back in action Wednesday, as it travels to Conference USA foe Marshall. It will return home Saturday to face Atlantic 10 rival George Mason.