STERLING – The Golden
Warriors used hot shooting to grab a lead in the second quarter on Tuesday night at Musgrove Fieldhouse, but in the second half, the shooting cooled, and Sterling needed a late basket to force overtime before beating Alleman 62-57.
The Pioneers’ Saurabh Patwal hit a 3-pointer with 18.3 seconds left to put Alleman ahead 54-52.
But Sterling answered by getting the ball to Sean Gingrich, who drove the lane and hit a leaner to tie the score at 54-54.
“I saw my guy went by me on the ball fake,” Gingrich said. “I drove to the lane. I knew there were about 10 seconds left. I was there, so I had to go up with it, and thankfully, it went in.”
Alleman had a few seconds to go the other way and try to answer, but Gingrich and Nyrel Sullivan double-teamed Gaurav Patwal on the sideline, making sure he never got a shot off.
Alleman 8-3 in the extra period, starting with a three-point play from Daniel Pontnack, pushing the ball up the floor off of a long rebound from an Alleman miss, hitting the layup and drawing the foul.
The Warriors (1-4) shot 6 of 13 from the free-throw line in regulation, including missing two from the line late in the third quarter, grabbing the offensive rebound, then missing two more from the line.
However, Pontnack’s made free throw early in the overtime was just the beginning, as Gingrich hit a pair of free throws, Sullivan did the same, and Micah Kendrick hit one of two.
Sterling’s shooting came and went from the field as well. In the second quarter, the Golden Warriors knocked down their first four shots, with Gingrich and Pontnack both hitting 3-pointers, Aiden Shore adding a dunk, and Pontnack connecting on a baseline drive.
Sterling shot 7-for-11 from the field in the second quarter, and turned a 15-10 deficit after one into a 30-25 halftime lead.
“I think it was just us trusting each other and moving the ball,” Gingrich said. “We had some good practices this week with everybody back, trying to gel with each other. That’s how we want to play.”
Pontnack finished the second quarter with 10 points, and finished the game with 15 points.
“Coaches told me to be strong with the ball, and just pass when I needed to and make shots when I needed to,” he said.
Gingrich finished with 25 points, including a 10-point outburst in the fourth.
“If we could keep the ball out of [Gingrich] and [Pontnack’s] hands, that was a smart move,” Alleman coach Kyle Murray said. “Those are really good players, so we tried to not let them beat us.”
But Sterling’s shooting faded later in the game. The Golden Warriors took a 36-27 lead early in the third quarter off baskets from Sullivan, Tyler Willman and Gingrich, but misses from the field and the free-throw line helped Alleman chip away.
For the game, Sterling shot 22-for-50 from the field.
“We need to practice together,” Sterling coach Ryan Vasquez said. “We’ve had six solid practices all together as one. What we’ve seen tonight, I’ll take it.”
Gingrich made back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Warriors up 48-42 early in the third, but the Pioneers answered with a basket in the paint by Chase VanDerGinst, a 3-pointer from Saurabh Patwal, and a basket in the paint from Andrew Barrett to cut the lead to 50-49.
Alleman re-took the lead with 58 seconds left in regulation. Brendan Hird made a free throw to tie the game, then missed the second and grabbed the offensive rebound. He wound up back on the line and again made one of two, putting the Pioneers up 51-50.
Willman briefly put Sterling back in front with a putback with 39.8 seconds left, but Saurabh Patwal’s 3-pointer put Alleman in front again.
In overtime, Alleman (6-1) turned the ball over three times – twice on traveling calls – and missed three 3-pointers.
That was a rare cold spell from long range for Alleman, who finished the game 11-for-22 from behind the arc. Saurabh Patwal had six 3s and finished with 22 points.
“We try to make a read on offense where guys have an opportunity to drive or really take what the defense is giving us,” Murray said. “It looked like Sterling was making sure we didn’t get to the basket, so we spaced the floor a little bit and tried to get some opportunities that way.”
Sterling 62, Alleman 57, OT
Star of the game: Sean Gingrich, Sterling, 25 points
Key performers: Daniel Pontnack, Sterling, 15 points, 6 rebounds; Saurabh Patwal, Alleman, 22 points; Andrew Barrett, Alleman, 10 points, 9 rebounds
Up next: Morris at Sterling, 7 p.m. Friday