Tolbert Sinks Pirates In Last-Minute Victory, 76-73
SAVANNAH, Ga. - Former Armstrong Atlantic State University men's basketball player Dwight Tolbert hit three free throws with 12 seconds left, then made the game preserving steal on the Pirates' last possession to lead Lander University to a come-from-behind 76-73 Peach Belt Conference victory on Wednesday evening in Savannah.
The win keeps the Bearcats (16-7, 9-6 PBC) in good shape to qualify for the PBC Tournament as Lander is tied for third with three games remaining, while the Pirates (10-13, 6-9 PBC) suffer a huge blow as Armstrong is now three games out with three left to play.
It looked like the Pirates had the game well in hand with four minutes remaining as a pair of Aric Miller free throws pushed Armstrong's lead to nine, 70-61, with 3:51 left. A three-pointer by Tolbert cut the lead to six with 2:36 left, then after a DeVon Jones dunk, another three by Tolbert made the lead five with two minutes left.
A missed free throw by the Pirates gave Lander another possession, and Corey Wright converted on a layup to make it a three-point game, 72-69, with 1:54 left. Senior Chris Vanlandingham would make one of two free throws, and another Wright layup brought the Bearcats within two, 73-71, with under a minute to play.
A missed shot by Keyshore Williams and a missed follow by DeVon Jones was rebounded by the Bearcats, and Tolbert had the ball on the left wing with 12 seconds left. His shot fake from beyond the arc got the Pirates' Aric Miller off his feet, and Tolbert threw the ball towards the basket, drawing contact for the three free throws, making them all for the 74-73 lead.
Vanlandingham brought the ball up the court for the Pirates' last shot, but at the top of the key, Tolbert stole the ball from Vanlandingham and went the length of the floor for the game-clinching dunk.
Tolbert finished the night with 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the floor, including 7-of-12 three-pointers, to lead all scorers for Lander. David Pruett chipped in 11 points and Jermel Kennedy added 10 for the Bearcats.
Armstrong was led by Jones' season-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting and perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Vanlandingham added 25 points, moving ahead of Ray Smith (1,114) into 12th place on Armstrong's all-time scoring chart with 1,125 points.
The Pirates, who need to win out to try and qualify for the PBC Tournament, will next visit UNC Pembroke for a 3:30 p.m. Peach Belt Conference contest in Pembroke, N.C.