By Mike London
MISENHEIMER ó Limestone’s Kenny White lobbed a second-half pass in the general direction of a tall teammate.
The ball banked through the net cleanly for three points, Limestone grabbed the lead in a first-round Conference Carolinas tournament contest and White shrugged as if to say, “There’s nothing to this game.”
Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis wanted to cry, but he handled the misfortune.
So did his team.
Second-seeded Pfeiffer held off a torrid Limestone squad that hit everything ó even passes ó on Monday night. Limestone was 13-for-19 on 3s, which should have been enough to beat Tennessee, but Pfeiffer still won 86-80.
“This was an unbelievable example of perseverance,” Davis said. “Limestone was making the kind of shots that can just break your heart, but our guys kept hanging in and hanging in.”
Seventh-seeded Limestone shot 67 percent from the floor. Pfeiffer, which lost at Limestone on Friday, won the turnover battle 27-9 and enjoyed a 20-3 edge in points on free throws.
Quintel Maxwell and Jeff Pettiway led the Falcons with 13 points each. Josh Roper (11), Logan Call (11), Alvin Slaton (11) and Thomas Carr (10) were also in double figures. Slaton and Carr nailed three 3s apiece, but Maxwell (who daggered Limestone with clutch free throws) and Roper (who replaced injured Craig Thomas) ó were the heroes.
With the 6-foot-3 Thomas out because of a hamstring injury, Roper, a 5-11 sophomore, joined Carr, Pettiway, Call and Derrick Truesdale on one of Davis’ five-man units. Call is 6-6, but the 6-1 Carr was the second tallest guy in a group that had to scrap every second.
“With Craig out, I just tried to do whatever the team needed me to do,” Roper said. “They weren’t missing, so we had to pick it up on defense.”
Pfeiffer was in serious trouble, trailing 60-53 with 9:24 remaining. But after a timeout, it scored 10 points in 43 seconds. Pettiway banked in a shot, and pressure from Truesdale and Roper forced a turnover. Carr inbounded to Call for a three-point play, Truesdale stole the ball and Carr lobbed an inbounds pass to Call for two more points. After Roper and Call created another turnover, Roper drove for a three-point play that gave Pfeiffer a 63-60 lead and put the Falcons ahead to stay.
It was still tight until Pfeiffer added an 8-0 run for a 74-65 lead. Slaton made a 3-pointer, Maxwell stole the ball and drilled a pull-up 3 that nearly gave Davis a heart attack and Call swiped the ball for a breakaway dunk.
“Coach will probably be telling me tomorrow that was a bad shot,” Maxwell said. “But right now, it’s all good.”
Free throws by Maxwell accounted for seven of Pfeiffer’s last eight points, and the freshman sprinted to the foul line every time he was hacked.
“Carr wouldn’t let us get down no matter how many outside shots they made,” Maxwell said. “We hung in there and made the plays.”
No. 3 Queens visits Pfeiffer for a semifinal on Thursday.
LIMESTONE (80) ó Coleman 16, Williams 12, Prioleau 9, Franklin 9, White 9, Creal 8, Grier 8, Clark 6, Evans 3.
PFEIFFER (86) ó Pettiway 13, Maxwell 13, Slaton 11, Call 11, Roper 11, Carr 10, Woods 5, Truesdale 5, McGriff 5, Johnson 2, Davidson, Haugh.
Limestone 35 45 ó 80
Pfeiffer 38 48 ó 86
Contact Mike London at email@example.com.
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