IRVINE, Calif. – It wasn't pretty, but No. 9 Vanguard held off No. 15 Concordia 75-74 in overtime on Tuesday night to improve to 22-4 on the season and 9-2 in Golden State Athletic Conference play. The Pride of the Spokane Tribe, senior Preston Wynne (Wellpinit, Wash.), led all players with 28 points and recorded 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals.
The Eagles opened the contest strong, scoring nine unanswered before junior Keith Mason (Carson, Calif.) quieted CUI's crowd with a dunk to give VU its first points of the evening.
After a Stephen Grossey lay-up put CUI up 13 at the 13:13 mark, Wynne skipped the ball cross court to junior Chris Gorman (Oceanside, Calif.) who sank the Lions' first 3-pointer of the night to bring Vanguard within 10.
The Lions slowly but surely fought back until a layup by junior Jordan Diandy (Dakar, Senegal) tied the slate at 27-all. The hard work and diligence paid off the next trip down as Wynne sank one from behind the arc to give the Blue and Gold its first lead of the night.
Stunned by the 20-8 turnaround, CUI suffered a lapse defensively, allowing Gorman the time he needed to get a shot off in the paint, which he sank, to furnish the Lions' 32-27 edge.
From there, The Pride took over as Wynne nailed another from deep and junior DeAngelo Jones (Cheney, Wash.) was fouled on a make as he slashed to the hoop.
Vanguard held Concordia to just five points in the final 6:37 of the opening period. The Lions owned a 37-32 advantage at the break.
Wynne's 19 points were tops for VU through 20 minutes. He shot 4-for-5 from downtown in the half.
The Eagles cut the margin to two quickly in the second but Jones answered with a bucket and a Mason lay-up at 18:15 kept VU's lead intact (41-37).
The two squads traded baskets on five straight trips until a CUI mishap gave Vanguard an extra possession, where Wynne exploited his defender to draw a foul that resulted in two points and a 49-42 edge for the Blue and Gold.
After a five minute scoring drought for the Lions, Concordia took its first lead (51-49) of the second period via a DeLaun Frazier 3-pointer.
With just under 10:00 to play, Jones tied the affair at 51-51 with a pair of free throws. He capitalized on the fast break the following trip down to put VU ahead briefly, but the Eagles responded with two from the charity stripe and the rival teams traded buckets to maintain the deadlock at 55-all.
Down 61-57 with just over five minutes on the clock, freshman Zach Allmon (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) came up with a huge defensive block in the paint to save the Lions from going down six.
Turnover after turnover ensued as 60 seconds ticked off the game-clock, and when Vanguard finally retained custody of the ball, head coach Rhett Soliday signaled for a timeout to try to calm his squad down.
The tactic sort of worked, though it took a trial run before Wynne connected on a baseline jumper to cut CUI's lead to 61-59.
Concordia responded with a pair of easy lay-ups to stretch its lead to six again, while VU went the hard route, heaving a pair of tries from downtown that would not go.
The Eagles struggled from the free throw line down the stretch, missing the front end of two separate one-and-one attempts.
After the second miss, Jones drew a foul on a 3-pointer and connected on all three to bring the Blue and Gold within three points (67-64).
Concordia seemingly traveled twice in its final possession (both went uncalled), but the ball didn't lie as Vanguard regained control and quickly dribbled up the floor where Gorman confidently pulled from the top of the key to bank in a contested 3-pointer and shock CUI's home crowd.
The Eagles got the ball back with three seconds to play and had one last look from just outside of the paint, but it went long and sent the contest into overtime.
In the extra period, Mason gave Vanguard a two-point edge as he connected on a pair of free throws and Allmon made it three 40 seconds later with one of his own.
CUI tied the competition at 2:30 but VU got Wynne the ball on a flare behind the arc, where he let the shot fly and drained his fifth three of the evening.
Jones sank two high pressure FT's at 1:39 as the Lions went up 75-72, but the Eagles' Josh Smith came up with a clutch lay-up on the next trip and was fouled. He missed the extra point and VU got the ball back, but could not convert as the score remained at 75-74.
It looked as though CUI would take a late lead as its big man Lucas Simpson had a wide open lay-up with 25 seconds on the clock, but somehow he missed to give Wynne the ball one-on-one on the fast break.
It appeared that Wynne was fouled on his try, but no whistle sounded and CUI brought the ball back down in the final seconds.
Donell Phifer missed a close-range shot with four ticks and had another look after a jump ball was called on the ensuing rebound, but the shot came up short at the buzzer.
Nearly 50 turnovers were committed in the game. Concordia held a slight advantage in nearly every category, but VU shot the ball considerably better from the free throw line.
Gorman and Jones scored 14 and 16 respectively, while Allmon led all players with 10 rebounds.
With the loss CUI drops to 19-8 overall and 6-5 in GSAC play.
Vanguard heads to Hope International on Saturday for a 7:30pm contest with the Royals. The Lions are a win away from clenching the sole 2014 GSAC regular season championship. VU has not won a GSAC men's basketball title since 1990.