Last-second shot lifts men's basketball past Slippery Rock, 63-62
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 14:02
A last-second tip in by junior forward Danny Ayebo gave the IUP men's basketball team a nail-biting 63-62 win over rival Slippery Rock Saturday.
Although senior guards Ashton Smith and Julian Sanders carried the load offensively for the Crimson Hawks, it was Ayebo's tip in with three seconds left that helped IUP escape Slippery Rock's Morrow Field House with a narrow victory.
Smith and Sanders scored 24 and 19 respectively.
With the win, IUP (15-3, 12-2) remains in first place in the PSAC West and one game ahead of Mercyhurst, who kept pace with an overtime win against Cal U Saturday.
As for Slippery Rock (12-6, 9-5), the loss drops them into a tie for third place in the division with Clarion (13-7, 9-5).
During the first half, the Crimson Hawks were able build a nine-point lead with the help of both Sanders and Smith. A lot of the points in the first half came from the free throw line. The Hawks went to the free throw line 16 times, hitting 15 – a vast improvement over their percentage heading into the game.
Even with the strong free throw shooting, the Hawks were up only 29-28 going into halftime. In the second, the Hawks continued to play strong offense, but were unable to get to the free throw line as much as they did in the first.
IUP attempted only five second-half free throws.
With strong defense in the second half, Slippery Rock was able to build a slight lead. With one minute remaining, however, The Rock was down 61-57 after Smith made two free throws. After a couple missed shots by both teams, Slippery Rock forward Chaquille Pratt cut IUP's lead to one after a 3-pointer.
The Rock took the lead with 22 seconds left when junior guard Aubin Reeves hit both of his free throw attempts.
The Rock tried to run out the clock with 10 seconds left, but Sanders stole the ball away and gave the Hawks one more chance to win.
Sanders then missed a jumper, but in came Ayebo to give IUP a much-needed victory.
After an IUP timeout, the Hawks came away with another steal, this time it was forward Marcel Souberbielle.
"There's some irony in it," said IUP Head Coach Joe Lombardi. "We knew in our preparation for Slippery Rock we could talk about stopping this cut or not letting them execute this play, but none of that really mattered unless we won the rebounding. We thought that was critical, and we boxed out in walk-throughs today just to drive home the point. It's ironic that we won the rebounding by one because that was the difference in the game."
The Hawks will have some time off before they're on the road again at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gannon (10-8, 8-6).