Spartans Drop 80-79 Heartbreaker in Overtime to Denison

Spartans Drop 80-79 Heartbreaker in Overtime to Denison

A layup in the final seconds over overtime by Denison University's Fred Brou sent the Case Western Reserve University Spartans to a heartbreaking first loss of the season, 80-79, in Granville, Ohio on Tuesday night.

The loss dropped the Spartans to 3-1 overall on the campaign, while Denison improved to 1-2.

Sophomore guard Michael Volkening led the Spartans with 14 points, scoring 12 points in the second half and overtime.  Junior guard Monty Khela came off the bench to score 13 points on a five-for-10 shooting effort, while freshman Ryan Newton scored 12 points on a six-of-11 day from the floor, and led the team with eight rebounds.  Sophomore guard Antonio Ionadi added 10 points in the game.

The Spartans started slow in the first half, with Denison leading by as many as five points in the opening five minutes of the game.  However, an and-one by Khela, followed by a layup from Ionadi, helped CWRU take a 15-14 lead with 12:02 to play.  CWRU and Denison would continue to play a tight game for the remainder of the half, with the score tied on five occasions and the lead changing six times over the last 11 minutes of the opening frame.  The Spartans would begin to pull away in the final three minutes of the first period, closing the half on a 9-2 run to take a 35-30 lead into the halftime break.

Khela converted a pair of and-ones and knocked down a three pointer in the first half to lead the team with nine points and four rebounds over the first 20 minutes.  Junior forward Michael Hollis added eight first half points for the Spartans.

CWRU increased its lead to as many as 11 points in the second half, pulling ahead 63-52 on a jumper by junior forward Connor Nally with 9:11 to play.  Denison responded with a 9-0 run to trim the lead back to two by the 6:29 mark, but would not tie the score until the final minute of the game, when a pair of free throws by Alex Meurer evened the tally at 71-71 with 16.8 seconds remaining.  The Spartans had a chance to win it on their final possession, but a long three point attempt by sophomore guard Ignas Masiulionis fell short, sending the game into overtime.

The lead continued to change hands throughout overtime.  Denison grabbed a two-point lead, 77-75, on an and-one with 1:05 to play.  Newton would knock down a hook shot with 50.2 seconds left to even the score, before a foul sent the Big Red to the line with 39.7 seconds remaining, where Jake Livingston converted one-of-two tries.  On the next possession, Hollis missed a layup, but junior guard Sam Hansen collected the rebound and drained the put-back to put the Spartans ahead by a point with 20.7 seconds left in the game.  However, Denison would take advantage of their final possession of the game, as Fred Brou capped off his game-high 22 point effort with a layup with 0.8 seconds remaining to give his team the lead again, 80-79.  The Spartans were unable to get a last shot off, as Denison secured its first win of the season.

CWRU shot well from the free throw line in the loss, knocking down 14-of-15 shots, and forced 19 turnovers in the game.  The Spartans shot 41.9% overall, but struggled from long range, hitting just three-of-23 shots from behind the three point line on Tuesday.

The Spartans will return home to host Thiel College at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday, November 28th at 7:30 p.m.