DEFIANCE, Ohio - The hot start for the men's basketball team got its biggest challenge on Sunday night (Dec. 30) as the Bulldogs squeaked out a 70-69 overtime win over Defiance College in the championship game of the Defiance Purple and Gold Tournament. Adrian ranked 12th in the latest NCAA Division III poll by D3hoops.com needed a game-winning shot inside by senior Brandon Romain with 1.3 seconds left in the extra session to improve the team to a school-record 11-0 beginning.
The Yellow Jackets forced overtime after Adrian had a seven-point lead at 58-51 with just 3:58 left in regulation. Logan Wolfrum hit a pair of free throws followed by a made free throw by Mason Roth to make it 58-54 with 2:38 remaining in the second half. Adam Meier then split at the charity stripe with 1:41 on the clock to give AC a five-point lead. Wolfrum went back to the line with 1:23 to go and made both making it a one-possession game. Sean Gallant was forced to shoot a long three as the shot clock expired and Defiance then took advantage by hitting the tying triple from Drew Frizell in the corner with 20 seconds to play. Adrian inbounded after a pair of timeouts and Cody Barnes had his jumper blocked by Ryan Hicks to end regulation at 59-59.
The overtime featured two ties and four lead changes with the Bulldogs holding the all-important final lead. The last two minutes saw Meier convert a traditional three-point play to break the tie at 66-63 with 1:32 remaining. Roth made two free throws for the Yellow Jackets to cut the lead to one and after a Defiance timeout they applied full court pressure and stole the inbounds. Frizell made the steal and converted the basket to give the hosts a 67-66 lead with 32 seconds to go. Romain quickly drove the lane and hit the bank shot with 21 seconds on the clock to give AC a 68-67 edge. Wolfrum came right back and drove to the hoop scoring with 10 seconds left to give Defiance a 69-68 advantage. Romain took the ball to the hole and was blocked by Hicks with three seconds left setting up the final basket. Romain took the pass under his own basket and was double-teamed but still forced it up and through the tin with 1.3 seconds to give AC another thrilling win. Frizell took a half-court shot at the horn but it fell short.
Eric Lewis was named Most Valuable Player scoring 17 points on the night. He went 6-of-15 from the field and was 2-of-3 beyond the arc. Gallant scored a career-high 27 points in the opening game yesterday and followed with seven points and 11 rebounds in the final being named to the All-Tournament Team. Romain finished with eight points and two steals in 12 minutes. Meier ended with 13 points and eight boards. He was 7-of-9 at the foul line and played 40 of a possible 45 minutes.
Adrian shot 40.3 percent for the game and were 5-of-9 in overtime. Defiance countered by shooting 43.9 percent and were 4-of-7 in the final five minutes. It was the first overtime game of the season for the Bulldogs who are outscoring their opponents by an average of 13.2 points. Lewis is leading the team in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Romain is averaging 13 points in his first four games as a Bulldog. Adrian was 13-of-24 from the arc (54.2 percent) in the tournament above their 36.6 clip for the season. Lewis has now scored in double figures in 10-of-11 games this season. Barnes finished the game with nine points snapping a three-game stretch in double digits. Barnes' five assists was a season-high.