By Cody Harrod, Warner Pacific Sports Information
PORTLAND, Ore. - Stephen Harris scored from eight feet away as time expired to send No. 12 Warner Pacific (Ore.) over No. 3 Eastern Oregon, 72-70, in a clash of NAIA heavyweight teams tonight (Feb. 15) at Bart Valentine Court.
In a game that lived up to its billing as the NAIA National Game of the Week, the host Knights fought back from a 10 point half-time deficit to earn the win. The result puts the Cascade Conference title race in doubt for one more night, as WPC and EOU are now tied at 14-3 in league play.
The visiting Mountaineers looked every part the #3 team in the nation in the early action. EOU had the range from the opening tip, and hit five of their first six three point attempt on their way to a 19-8 lead.
The Knights rallied to close within three points (26-23) with 7:22 on the clock, but EOU used a 13-2 run capped by a Zach Anderson trey to stretch out a 14 point advantage. The Mounties settled for a 10 point lead at halftime, and were feeling good about shooting 53 percent in the period and 10 of 17 from behind the arc.
Warner Pacific could not find much headway in the first few minutes of the second period as the margin remained 10 points (50-40) at the 15:42 mark. That's when the Knights went on a 10-0 run to tie the game, and the capacity crowd was treated to a thrilling finish.
EOU withstood the charge and managed to keep a small lead until the clock read 4:11. Zac Compton made two free throws at that point to give the Knights their first lead of the night at 62-60. WPC managed to scratch out their largest advantage at 68-61 with 1:42 to play, but the Mounties started to hit again from behind the arc. Trent Roos, Zach Anderson and Anthony Brown all made shots from distance in the waning seconds, with Brown's trey knotting the game up at 70-70 with 13 seconds to play.
The Knights did not call timeout after the game tying shot, and gave the ball to Harris on the left wing with time ticking down. The senior drove to the left of the paint and hit a running floater as the buzzer sounded to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Harris finished with 25 points and nine rebounds to lead Warner Pacific. Doug Thomas added 15 points, while Zac Compton was also in double figures with 11.
Trent Roos was the high scorer for Eastern Oregon at 15 points, while Anthony Brown contributed 11.
Warner Pacific improved to 22-6 overall with the victory, and hosts College of Idaho tomorrow night. Eastern Oregon is now 25-3 overall and heads to Concordia tomorrow. The outcome of these games will determine the Cascade Conference title race.