NORTHFIELD, Vt. – There wasn’t a quiet fan in Andrews Hall during the final minutes of Saturday’s conference game. Norwich men’s basketball hosted Johnson & Wales, ranked second in the GNAC, and edged the Wildcats at the buzzer, 88-86.
For the Cadets (13-8, 9-5 GNAC), junior Antonio Davis scored a personal and team season-best 36 points. Shooting 81-percent from the field and 10-of-12 from the line, Davis was a clear threat to the Wildcats, as he also captured the game-high 10 rebounds.
Senior Jaren Jeffcoat also put up significant numbers, raising his season-best point production to 23, as he netted 11 from the line and was 6-of-12 in shooting. Jeffcoat nabbed seven off the glass and made two assists and one steal.
For the Wildcats (15-7, 11-3 GNAC), a double-double effort was given by senior Louis Ferreras, shooting for 15 points and recording 10 boards. However, the high point production was given by junior Lamonte Thomas with his 31 points and four assists, as well as his classmate Calvin Jones, who shot 10-of-15 for 25 points.
Thomas and Jones both sank two trifectas apiece in the action and were very successful from the line, with a 3-of-3 afternoon for Jones and a 11-of-12 success rate for Thomas.
At halftime the Wildcats (15-7, 11-3 GNAC) were leading 44-39, having held the advantage over their hosts for almost the entire first half. But the Cadets rose to the challenge in the second frame to outscore their opponents 49-32.
The second half brought on a whole new level of competition, as the Wildcats worked to secure their conference standing and the Cadets refused to be defeated on their home court.
JWU held their lead for another 12 minutes of play, but the Cadets were able to overcome the visiting team when Jeffcoat proved his skill at the line and sank three consecutive free throws, just seconds after Davis tied the game at 66-all on a jumper.
With 16 seconds left on the clock, Davis stepped up to the line and sank both of his free throws, putting the Cadets up 87-84.
A missed 3-pointer by Wildcats’ Thomas kept the hopes alive for Norwich fans as they watched Jeffcoat approach the free throw line with the chance to make it a two-possession game for JWU to have a chance at coming back. Missing his first attempt, he swished his second and the Cadets led 88-84 with seven seconds on the clock.
Wildcats’ Jones cut the difference in half when he made a jumper on the following play down the court. Senior Darren Faust, with two seconds on the clock, had a chance to end the game without a need for overtime, but watched as his trifecta bounced off the rim and into the hands of Cadets’ junior Darell Marshall as the buzzer sounded.
Norwich will play four games in the next seven days, the first three of which will be held at home in Andrews Hall. Tomorrow, Feb. 13, the Cadets will host Emerson at 1 p.m. for a make-up GNAC contest.
On Tuesday, Feb. 15, Norwich will host Emmanuel at 7:30 p.m., following the women’s home action against Suffolk at 5:30 p.m. earlier that evening. Tuesday will also represent the men’s “Senior Game,” where they will honor their three graduating seniors prior to the contest.