AUBURN — The plan was a relatively safe, easy pass over the top for a close, tying basket. The alternative was something a little more high-risk from farther out.
When the first strategy didn’t work Thursday night for the Southern Maine Community College men’s basketball team, the Seawolves opted for Plan B.
It was gutsy shot of desperation, but high risk brought a big reward. Waterville’s Jordan DeRosby drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to lift SMCC to a thrilling 73-72 win over Central Maine Community College at Kirk Hall.
“I expected it coming,” said DeRosby. “So instantly, I just caught it and shot it. I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left on the clock.”
His shot swished through the net with two seconds left. Though CMCC got a last-second try from Carrington Miller just beyond halfcourt, his shot didn’t drop.
“In our gym, against this team, it’s always a game of runs,” CMCC coach Dave Gonyea said. “We sustained their runs. They sustained our runs. In the end, they hit big shots. We hit big shots. They hit the last big shot.”
It was a battle of YSCC unbeaten. SMCC is now 12-1 overall, 8-0 in the conference while CMCC drops to 9-6, 5-1 in the conference.
The Mustangs battled from behind for much of the game but took the lead with 16 seconds left. Miller scored in the paint to give CMCC the 72-70 lead.
SMCC called timeout to set up a play. The initial plan was to lob the ball into the post for a basket, but CMCC’s defense was stellar. The Seawolves were held out on the perimeter with not many open looks at the hoop.
With time running out, SMCC worked the ball into the left corner to DeRosby.
“I had a guy closing out on me, and I was fading away a little bit,” DeRosby said. “It was supposed to look for something over the top, and it wasn’t there. So we just kicked it out to the corner.”
DeRosby and Atencio Martin each finished with 14 point for the Seawolves. Jack Tolan added 12. Kevin Fabian scored 11.
CMCC got 14 points from Preston Isner and 13 from Kazre Cummings. Jeremy Suero and Raymond Monroe each added 12.
Eleven 3’s made a big difference for SMCC. DeRosby and Fabian hit three each, while Grayson Waterman had two. It seemed every time CMCC was getting some momentum, the Seawolves hit from outside.
“A lot of guys came up clutch for us,” said DeRosby. “Kevin was a big one with a lot of big shots toward the end.”
CMCC trailed by as many as 11 in the first half. SMCC used a run of 11 consecutive points to open the lead, but the Mustangs were within 39-33 at the half.
SMCC got 3-pointers from DeRosby and Fabin to open a 45-35 lead and increased it to 50-36.
Then CMCC produced a run of its own. The Mustangs made a 15-2 surge, led by 3s from Monroe and Suero, to get within 52-51 with 14:28 left.
“I thought we worked really hard,” said Gonyea. “They wore themselves out. We’ve got a few nagging injuries, but that’s no excuse. I just thought our kids battled hard tonight.”
CMCC finally tied the game with an Isner fast break basket with 4:30 left. Then another transition hoop from Miller gave CMCC the lead with 3:34 left.
Fabian answered with a huge 3 from the right corner. After a Colbert basket, Lewiston’s Carlos Gonzalez scored inside to make it 68-67 with 1:44 left.
A Colbert three-point play with 1:02 remaining put CMCC back ahead, 70-68. Martin’s putback with 41 seconds tied the game at 70-70.
“We’ve got great kids,” said Gonyea. “They work hard. They’re very coachable. They don’t cheat at all. I hand it to Southern Maine. They’re a very good basketball team. They deserved to win the game.”