PORT ARTHUR – At times, it seemed Lamar State College-Port Arthur would need a miracle to beat No. 18-ranked Trinity Valley Community College. In the end, however, TVCC escaped on a prayer and a couple of free throws in a heart-stopping double-overtime decision, 104-103 at the Carl Parker Center on Wednesday night.
The Seahawks, who fall to 8-2 overall and 1-1 in NJCAA Region XIV play, battled toe-to-toe with the Cardinals, forcing two overtimes before TVCC was able to edge past LSC-PA for the win. Lamar State-Port Arthur sophomore Tre Bennett put the Hawks in position to win with a pair of free throws for a 103-99 lead with 29 seconds left in the contest.
TVCC countered with a 3-pointer by Malcolm Riley to pull the Cardinals to within one at 103-102. On the next trip down the floor, the Cardinals quickly fouled to put the Hawks at the line. Two missed free throws gave the Cardinals a second chance at a win with 19 seconds left on the clock.
After the inbounds pass, a mad flurry ensued under the basket and Bennett was called for a foul, allowing Josh Robinson to put the Cards ahead from the line. Now trailing 104-103, the Seahawks' Bennett, who led all scorers with 32 points, heaved a desperation shot that went just left of the rim as time expired.
"This is not how you want things to end after such a hard-fought game but it's good experience for our guys," Head Coach Lance Madison said. "We are early in the season of a very tough conference and we will face these types of situations again. You have to take the positives away from this."
The Hawks appeared to have the game wrapped up in regulation when two free throws from Bennett tied the game at 85-85 with 13 seconds remaining. He then collected a steal and fed the ball to sophomore Jamal Shabazz who drove the basket. Shabazz went to the rim with three Cardinals converging but missed the shot as he hit the floor hard under the weight of his defenders. The no-call from the officials left Shabazz writhing on the hardwood and Madison livid.
"That's the game of basketball," Madison said. "You get the calls sometimes and sometimes you don't. Tonight was about getting one more rebound or making one more basket down the stretch. This was a great college basketball game."
In the first OT, the Cardinals took a quick advantage, getting out by as many as four points midway through the extra period. The Hawks worked their way back on baskets by Bennett, JoJo Mooring and D.J. Blanks. Lamar State-PA took the lead with 28 seconds left on a layup by Blanks and extended it with a free throw by Mooring. TVCC's Aldonis Foote hit a layup with nine seconds left to knot the game again and that's where it would stand as time ran out in the period.
Mooring finished the game with 27 points and eight rebounds, while Shabazz had 14 points and five boards. Blanks added 12 points for the Seahawks with eight rebounds. Bennett had six steals and three assists in the contest.
Leading the Cardinals was Patrick Ingram with 29 points and 10 rebounds while teammate Octavius Ellis added 23 points.
The Seahawks return to conference action on Saturday with a road trip to Carthage for a game against Panola Junior College. The game tips off at 4 p.m. and can be seen live at athletics.lamarpa.edu.