Saints close out conference play with thrilling double-overtime victory against Emmaus
Those in attendance Saturday afternoon had their emotions toyed with for about two hours.
The Saints had a 20-point second half lead slip away and looked to be on the wrong end of a devastating loss on two different occasions — at the ends of the first and second overtimes — before rallying for a 99-98 thrilling double-overtime victory over Emmaus Bible College at the Ferneau Center.
The win came on the heels of another big victory just a night earlier as Central Christian topped Faith Baptist Bible College, 96-87. The win over Emmaus on Saturday was the Saints' fifth in their last six games, and secured a fourth-place finish in the final Midwest Christian College Conference standings.
Central Christian (9-16, 6-6 MCCC) was in total control during the first half against Emmaus (7-13, 3-9 MCCC), leading 48-30 at halftime and by as many as 20 another 1:24 into the second half. That's when the Eagles started to chip away.
The Saints had their share of opportunities to put the game away nearing the end of regulation, but several missed free throws and a potential game-winning floater at the buzzer rolled off the rim to give the Eagles a second life.
At the end of the first overtime, it looked like Emmaus was on the verge of sealing the win, but Ayris Abdelnassar drove the length of the floor twice for layups in the final 20 seconds to knot the score at 86-apiece and force a second overtime.
Emmaus again looked in control in the second extra period, holding a 95-91 lead with under two minutes remaining. Abdelnassar came up clutch one more time with a wing 3-pointer to make it a one-point game, then after a steal on the other end by Nolan Mathes, Sam Adams delivered a drive and score for the Saints to regain the lead at 96-95 with 1:11 left to play.
Another Eagles turnover was followed by an Adams 3-pointer from the left wing that gave Central Christian a four-point lead with 40.2 seconds remaining. Emmaus responded with a 3 of their own to pull within one and the Saints followed with a turnover with 10 seconds left to give the visitors one last shot.
The Eagles went the length of the floor looking for an opening before throwing up a heavily contested 3-pointer that went long as time expired.
Abdelnassar and Jackson King both scored 23 points each to lead the Saints, while Abdelnassar also pulled down an impressive career-high of 18 rebounds. Quincy James, Jr., added another 18 points, followed by Isaiah Gilmore with 14 points.
In Friday night's game, the Saints led from nearly start to finish as they avenged a 15-point loss to the Eagles from a couple weeks earlier.
Leading 36-33 at halftime despite 1-for-9 shooting from the 3-point line, the Saints' offense got rolling in the second half as they shot 63 percent from the field to the tune of 60 more points after the break.
Three players scored 20 or more points, led by King with 26 points and six assists. Gilmore scored a season-high 23 points, while Abdelnassar recorded a triple-double of 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
The CCCB men return to the court later this week in the first round of the MCCC Tournament in Haviland, Kan. The Saints are the No. 4 seed and will have just five days before another rematch with No. 5 seed Emmaus in the 12 p.m. game on Thursday.