Western's buzzer-beater stuns West Lafayette

Western's buzzer-beater stuns West Lafayette

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Western's buzzer-beater stuns West Lafayette

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Western’s Tanner Degenkolb slipped behind a West Lafayette defender for an offensive rebound and put back at the buzzer for a 63-62 victory in Berberian Gymnasium Saturday night.

The victory was redemption for Western, who saw its nine-point third quarter lead disappear under a shower of Red Devil 3-pointers that sparked a 20-5 West Side run and gave the Red Devils an 55-49 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

But the contest essentially came down to the final minute, when Nai Carlisle’s driving layup lifted the West Lafayette’s advantage to 62-58. Degenkolb knocked down two free throws with 54.5 ticks left to trim the deficit to a basket.

With time winding down, Western’s Josh Beeler fouled Carlisle, who led all Red Devils scorers with 17 points and had made two free throws at the 1:23 mark, with 25.5 seconds remaining in the game. But Carlisle missed the front end of the one-and-one, opening the door for the Panthers again.

Zach Shahan was fouled under the basket with 8.2 seconds remaining, but missed his second free throw, which left the Panthers trailing 62-61. But Shahan darted to the left corner of the court where the basketball bounced around and tracked down the rebound. The Panthers called time out with 5.6 seconds left.

The Panthers were forced to call a second timeout because they could not initially get the ball in play. On their second attempt, Austin Weaver, who led all scorers with 24 points, misfired on a 3-point attempt, but Dengenkolb nabbed the rebound and calmly made the contested layup as the buzzer sounded.

Degenkolb finished with 11 points for the Panthers while Shahan grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a frustrating night for West Side, which trailed most of the game until consecutive Tyler Nycz 3-point shots near the end of the third quarter ignited a Red Devils rally.

It was West Lafayette’s first game since Dec. 20, and coach David Wood refused to used that as an excuse for the Red Devils slow start. The win snapped Western’s five-game losing streak, winning for the first time since its Dec. 10 road victory at Rossville.

Western owned the first half behind the hot shooting of Weaver who went 5-for-5 from the field to score 15 points as the Panthers made 47.8 percent of their shots over the first 16 minutes. When they did miss, Shahan was usually there with the rebound, as he grabbed eight boards in the opening half.

Kaleb Howard’s 15-foot jumper within the final minute of the first quarter gave Western its largest lead at 19-11 by the first quarter buzzer. The Panthers would duplicate that lead again after a Weaver jumper at the 3:07 mark, to give Western a 27-19 advantage.

West Lafayette seemed only to tread water in the second quarter, cutting the Panthers lead to four at one time (23-19), only to see themselves misfiring on their next three possessions and turning the ball over on a fourth.

The scoring drought allowed the Western to maintain its advantage down the first half stretch.

West Lafayette will play three games next week, highlighted by Hoosier Conference road trips at Tipton on Tuesday and Rensselaer on Friday. The Red Devils will play a nonconference tilt against cross-county rival Harrison on Saturday.

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