CHARLOTTE -- Northwestern overcame a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit and nipped Nation Ford 50-48 on Wednesday at Bobcats Arena.
As a bonus for the 200 or so fans who witnessed the matchup in the cavernous NBA building, they got their money's worth as the final 10 seconds melted off the clock.
Nation Ford, which led most of the game, trailed 49-48 after T.J. Everette's layup. But there were only eight seconds left and the only option was to foul Northwestern and hope to get the ball back on missed free throws.
As the teams walked to the other end after Will King was fouled, Nation Ford coach Artie Moore sent B.J. Boatwright to the scoring table to check in. He was going in for Sam Hirsch, the third Falcon to foul out.
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After he checked in, Moore called his players to the area in front of their bench to discuss what they should do. One of the referees came over and called a technical foul on Moore, saying he never checked anyone in to replace Hirsch.
An argument ensued as Moore pleaded with the official not to "do this'' to his team. When calm was restored, Zach Beaver drained one of two technical foul shots. King missed both of his in the double-bonus situation, giving life to the Falcons after they pulled down the rebound and trailed only 50-48.
Beaver, who hit 8-of-9 free throws, led the Trojans (5-8, 2-1 Region 3-AAAA) with 18 points.
"They didn't try to foul me at the end, but that's OK because we have other players who can make free throws,'' Beaver said. "They went after Nigel Dixon and he stepped in and knocked down a pair.
"I'm glad to get out of here with a win. It seemed like we got caught up in playing in here and didn't get started until late in the third quarter.''
It got dicey again after the Trojans' four free throws. In an attempt to keep Nation Ford from moving the ball into the frontcourt, King fouled Eddie Caldwell. The ref that called it held his hands up and crossed them, signaling an intentional foul.
That meant with .3 left, Caldwell would have a chance to tie the game with his two free throws and maybe win it afterward, because an intentional foul puts the ball back into the hands of the team taking the shots.
He missed both and Nation Ford got the ball out of bounds near midcourt. It came in to Caldwell, who tried to spin and shoot.
It was on line, but short. If it had gone in, it wouldn't have counted because the buzzer sounded before he shot.
"We are a young team, starting four sophomores and a freshman,'' Moore said. "But we stayed close to a good team tonight and maybe that gave us confidence we need because we were there right to the end.
"Our kids are starting to play hard and are competing. It's been tough, but we went through a couple of years like this when I was an assistant at Fort Mill.''
Nation Ford's rail-thin inside players and its smallish guards took it to the taller, more muscular Trojans from the opening tap. The Falcons (2-11, 0-3) were ahead at the end of the first three quarters by playing a patient, controlled offense.
The top gun was Hirsch, who was the high scorer with 19 points. He was 10-of-10 from the stripe.
But the fourth quarter was the difference as Northwestern cashed in on its opportunities. Nation Ford, which has only 10 players, lost three to five fouls during the final eight minutes.
But the killing blow was the Trojans' full-court press.
It started on a steal by Beaver, which he converted into a layup. The press kept going and gave Northwestern its first lead since 21-20 in the first half on King's free throw. That put the Trojans up 47-46 and gave them the lead the rest of the way.
"Our problem is we don't have anyone who can score,'' Northwestern coach Mike Gossett said. "We committed dumb, silly turnovers. We'd get a rebound and couldn't get the stick-back. But we play hard.''
• YORK 50, SOUTH POINTE 49 -- At York, guard O.B. Love provided plenty of offense with clutch shooting, passing and ball-handling.
But in addition to a game-high 19 points, Love used his defensive skills to boost York to a dramatic 50-49 victory over South Pointe.
York held a one-point edge, 50-49, and had guard Charlie Mobley on the free-throw line with 7.4 seconds remaining. Love was off-target with the shot and South Pointe grabbed the rebound, heading downcourt for a game-winning attempt.
The Stallions immediately looked for play-making guard Stephon Gilmore, who briefly fumbled the ball. Love seized the opportunity and used quick hands to pick up the loose ball. He fired it to Drew Harper, who dribbled the remaining time off the clock for the victory.
"I knew that the first person that they were going to look for was Stephon because he is always their number-one option," Love said. "He bobbled the ball and that is when I stepped in and took it."
York (8-4, 2-1 Region 3-AAAA) trailed by three at the half, 25-22, but used three consecutive 3-pointers, two from Wade Ramsey and another from Love, to seize a 35-29 edge with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter. South Pointe also used the long ball, with Cory Kessler connecting on two, and then added three free throws while being fouled on another attempt for a 41-37 lead after three quarters.
It was then the Cougars' turn from behind the arc with Ramsey, Harper and Love drilling shots for a 48-43 lead with 4:16 remaining. Gilmore scored on the inside the cut the Stallions' deficit to three, 48-45, with 2:01 remaining.
York turned the ball over on its next two possessions but got two cluch free throws from Ramsey for a 50-45 lead with 36.3 seconds remaining. Gilmore added an inside basket to bring South Pointe back within three, 50-47, with 25.5 seconds on the clock.
Following a turnover, Gilmore drove to the hoop and banked in a short jumper while being fouled. His free throw was off-target and Mobley grabbed the rebound, getting fouled with 7.4 seconds left. He missed the front-end of a one-and-one, setting the stage for Love's defensive heroics.
"We concentrated on boxing out and rebounding," York coach Kendall McCarter said. "That was crucial for us tonight, especially in getting to the loose balls."