Pinehurst, NC – 7 straight points by freshman JJ Halaby in the final 35 seconds of regulation leads Oxford to an 81-79 victory over Central Carolina Community College. With this win, the Eagles improve to 4-0 for the season.
The Eagles were led by Halaby, who had a career night with 33 points while going 14 of 15 from the charity stripe. Sophomore captain Ryan Kwong scored 22 points and went 5 of 8 from the three-point line. Freshman Jermon Clark had another strong night with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Sophomore Eric Lee had 8 points and freshman Aaron Gerber scored 6 points to round up the night for Oxford.
The Eagles struggled in the first half only shooting 29.7% from the field and turning the ball over 9 times. Oxford gave up 17 transition points but was only down by 7 in the first half.
In the second half, the Eagles went on a 7-0 run in the first 3 minutes of action to tie the game 40-40. However, Central capitalized on a few Oxford mistakes and was able to build a 10-point lead midway in the second half. The Eagles fought back and was able to get the deficit within single points, but things did not look well with 52 seconds left in regulation. Central had just made 2 free throws to extend their lead to 5 and the Eagles turned the ball over on the other end. Oxford was forced to foul putting Central back to the free-throw line.
Carolina missed the first free throw and the Eagles got the rebound, gave it to Halaby who took it the length of the court and made the layup and got fouled. The first-year stepped up to the free throw line and knocked it down to cut the lead to 2. The Eagles set up full court pressure to try and steal the ball but ended up fouling Central. Again, Carolina missed the first free throw and Oxford got the rebound and gave it back to Halaby. Halaby used a pick from Clark and was able drive into the lane and draw a foul on one of Central's players. He confidently stepped up to the free-throw line and knocked down two big free throws to tie the game with 17 seconds left. At this point, the Eagles were just trying to play good defense and only allow a tough shot, but Central threw the ball away with six seconds left in the game. The Eagles inbounded the ball to Halaby who dribbled the length of the court and was able to get into the lane again and draw another foul to put him back on the charity stripe. With a chance to take a two-point lead, Halaby rolled the first free throw in and swished the second one. Central had a chance for a half-court heave but was not able to get the shot off before the buzzer sounded.
"Our guys fought hard especially in that final minute of the game to get us that victory," stated Head Coach Roderick Stubbs. "Our bench was engaged and players made big plays down the stretch."
The Eagles will be back in action Saturday, November 10thagainst Sandhills Community College. Tipoff will be at 3:00 PM.