UT Tyler scored the last eight points in regulation and then turned up the heat in overtime, registering an 80-75 win over Louisiana College in American Southwest Conference basketball game on Thursday at the Herrington Patriot Center.
With the come-from-behind victory, coupled with UT Dallas' loss to LeTourneau, the Patriots move into first place in the ASC East with an 8-4 mark. The Comets are 8-5.
In the first game, the Patriot women gave the No. 19 Lady Wildcats a run for their money before falling 61-51.
UT Tyler has another home DH on Saturday, hosting Mississippi College in games at 1 p.m. (women) and 3 p.m. (men).
It appeared the Patriots (13-5) were headed to a disappointing home loss before 604 fans after trailing 68-60 with 2:56 left in the game. But the Patriots turned up the defense. Joe Stephens' 3-pointer followed by free throws by Travis Dykman got the Patriots close. The Wildcats (5-9, 5-7) had a chance to ice the game, but Derrick Gardner missed the front end of a one-and-one — LC's only miss at the free throw line (the Cats were 19 of 20) and Jordan Cannon rebounded.
After a timeout, Cannon's long distance 3 (his only points of the game) tied the game at 68-68 with 16.6 seconds remaining.
The Patriots then played tight defense, not allowing the Wildcats a shot. Cannon's aggressive defense forced Kevin Cottonham to dribble the ball out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.
In OT, the Patriots hit 7 of 8 free throw attempts (two each by Nathan Harbour, Tyler Hysell and Darren Houliston; and one by Dykman). Also, Stephens hit a 3 and Houliston added a bucket.
"I knew we were just a couple of shots away from getting back in the game," Patriot coach Kenny Bizot said, "because we play good defense, we can rebound and we have the ability to make big shots — Joe Stephens proved that and Jordan Cannon proved that. This was not an easy win. ... Our guys could have easily folded because for a long period of time things were not going our way."
Stephens led UT Tyler with 17 points, while Houliston and Hysell had 14 points each. Dykman had 13 points. Houliston had a double double with his 12 boards. Cannon had eight rebounds.
Cottonham and Doc Welch led the Wildcats with 13 points apiece. Gardner had a double double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Although the Patriots did not get the win they gave the Lady Wildcats, the favorite to win the ASC East, a scare.
LC (17-1, 12-0) led 31-26 at halftime and threatened to pull away by scoring the first nine points of the second half.
But Brittany King scored five straight points for UT Tyler and the Lady Wildcats knew they were in a battle.
But LC's depth was too much for the Patriots (11-7, 6-6) to overcome.
UT Tyler saw its two-game win streak halted.
King, a sophomore from Arlington, continued her stellar play, hitting a game-high 21 points. She was 10 of 10 from the floor. She also had 10 rebounds for a double double. She'Cara Humphrey added 10 points while Breann McMillan contributed nine points. Humphrey added seven boards.
The Patriots were also without regular starter Teylor Seals (10.2 points average), who did not play due to an injury.
The Lady Wildcats were led by Karylon Thornton (13 points), Neka Jones (12) and Natosha Gottlieb (11). Danisha Allison led in rebounds with seven.
The two schools meet again Feb. 16 in Pineville, La.
Patriot Points: Caldwell Elementary's Teams of Tomorrow performed at halftime of the men's game.