RIVERTON – The Western Wyoming Community College men’s basketball team won a thriller Monday night after traveling to Riverton and beating Central Wyoming College 102-100 in overtime.
Monday’s game was a makeup for the game originally scheduled for Feb. 6 that was postponed due to bad weather.
After trailing by one going into halftime, the Rustlers tied the game at the end of regulation, outscoring the Mustangs 45-44 in the second half. WWCC started the extra period with a leg up, scoring four-straight points to make it a six-point game.
CWC battled back to within one and was given the chance to win the game on a last-second 3-pointer. After hitting the back of the rim, the Rustlers attempted one last tip-in, only to have the ball circle the rim and fall out. After 45 minutes of tough play, WWCC freshman Eddie Creal led his team with a career-high 37 points to give Western an important Region IX North win.
WWCC jumped out to an early 7-2 lead after Trey Marble found Creal down low for his fifth point of the night. Obi Agu extended the Mustangs lead to 11-6 after muscling his way to the rim for a putback. With just over 13 minutes remaining in the half, CWC came crawling back to take its second lead of the game.
Manel Ayol put Western back in front 15-12 after scoring four-straight points. Less than two minutes later, the game was knotted up at 15 points apiece. Agu helped jump-start his team to a 7-0 run after knocking down Western’s first 3-pointer. WWCC continue to hit the gas pedal as Marble hit another 3-pointer for a 30-19 lead. Still not finished, Marble went on to knock down his sixth-straight point. Western moved in front by 11 with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half.
Central Wyoming responded with nine unanswered points. A few plays later, the Rustlers jumped out a 36-35 lead with just over three minutes remaining. WWCC kept the score close. With 15 seconds remaining in the period, Ryan Gunderson muscled his way into the paint for his fourth and final point of the half. This gave the Mustangs a 45-44 lead going into the break.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Central Wyoming jumped out to a three-point lead after opening with four-straight points. A few plays later, Ayol found his way to the foul line, where he knocked down one of two shots to put an end to the Rustlers’ run. However, Central extended its lead to five after scoring three-straight points.
With a 51-46 lead, Central worked to keep ahead. With about 12 minutes remaining, WWCC pieced together another strong run to retake the lead. Ayol, John Batts and Creal combined for eight points in a two-minute span and put the Mustangs back in front with a 65-64 advantage. Less than one minute later, Central regained the lead with nine minutes remaining.
After a back-and-fourth battle, the Rustlers started to put some distance on the scoreboard. Central built its lead back up to 77-67 with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Gunderson and Ayol sparked some life back into the Mustangs after combining for seven-straight points. They cut the Rustlers’ lead down to 77-74 with plenty of time left on the clock.
Central managed to stay in out in front, and Western never trailed by more than four. With just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Sindou Cisse found Creal storming toward the basket, where he capped the play with a huge dunk to pull the Mustangs within two. With his 27th point of the night, Creal was playing lights out to help keep his team alive. Creal went on to score four-straight points, but Western still trailed by three.
With the game coming to an end, Obi Agu found Cisse behind the arch for the game-tying shot with only 33 seconds remaining. With the score knotted at 89-89, Marble had a chance to close the day out with a win. However, his shot hit the rim at the final buzzer, sending the game into a five-minute overtime.
After storming back from a 10-point second half deficit, the Mustangs came out with pure momentum. Creal opened the scoring with a layup for his 33rd point of the day to push Western back in front 91-89. A few plays later, Ayol gave the Mustangs a four-point lead after muscling his way to the rim for his 17th point.
Creal continued to keep the intensity up for the Mustangs. After knocking down his second OT basket, Creal gave the Mustangs a 95-89 lead with just over two minutes remaining.
Central Wyoming finally got on the board after scoring five-straight points. This brought the margin back to three. Ayol came up big for his team again as he netted his 21st point of the night. Still not done fighting, Central Wyoming responded with another big 3-pointer to bring the score to 99-97 with 1:45 left on the clock.
Creal found some space inside the paint for a team-high 37 points. This put the Mustangs back in front 101-97. With 10 seconds remaining on the clock, Central Wyoming hit one last 3-pointer to bring the score back to within one. Two seconds later, Carter Rosette found his way to the foul line, where he knocked down one of two shots.
On the last drive, Central threw up one last attempt, but the shot wouldn’t fall. The game came to a close with the Mustangs on top 102-100.
After Monday’s thriller, the Mustangs will look to keep the momentum going when the team hosts Laramie County Community College on Wednesday, Feb. 13, for another Region IX North matchup. Wednesday’s tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. inside Rushmore Gymnasium.