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BCC Men Defeat Palm Beach State in Wild Overtime Game
February 13, 2013 - Brevard Community College head men's basketball coach Jeremy Shulman summed it up simply: "Big-time players make big-time plays."
And that's what BCC sophomores Addison Spruill, Nyles Evans and Gary Gaskins did on Wednesday night as the Titans defeated Palm Beach State 72-69 in overtime in a game whose intensity sucked the air right out of the Melbourne Campus gym.
Playing before the largest crowd in recent memory to witness a BCC men's game the Titans beat Palm Beach for the second time this season – the Panthers' only losses - and won the tiebreaker for the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference championship.
BCC improved to 8-2 in the conference. Palm Beach fell to 8-2. BCC is 22-6 overall and Palm Beach 26-2.
The BCC victory also avenged a 72-70 last-second loss at Palm Beach on Jan. 28 and put the Titans into position to claim the conference title and an automatic bid to the FCSAA state tournament/NJCAA Region 8 tournament should they win their last two games.
BCC plays at Miami Dade College in Kendall at 2 p.m. Saturday and closes the regular season at home on Feb. 20 on Sophomore Night against Broward College.
And it was the sophomores who were crucial on Wednesday night.
Spruill led BCC with 27 points including the first seven of overtime to give BCC a 68-61 lead. Palm Beach clawed back to within one point twice. It cut BCC's lead to 68-67 with 2 minutes and 18 seconds to play but Gaskins sank two free throws for a 70-67 lead.
Palm Beach came back to 70-69 with 1:57 to play but Gaskins sank a short jump shot from the left side with 58.1 seconds to play for what proved to be the final margin.
BCC held on over the wild final seconds setting off a wild celebration.
That the Titans were in position to get to overtime came down to Evans who sank a three-pointer from long range to tie the game at 61-61 with 15.1 seconds to play in regulation.
"I played so bad I wanted to do something that would help the team," Evans said. "I feel like I let my team down the whole game. There came a moment in the game where I could step up a make a play and it happened.
"We wanted it so bad. We redeemed ourselves from (a loss) at Broward. We've got two games left and we can be the No. 1 team in the conference.
"That's what we want."
That's what they now have in their reach but it took all the Titans had to achieve it.
"This was like my high school state championship game, that's how bad I wanted it," said Spruill who played himself to exhilaration and exhaustion.
"I want to win. I did everything I could to get the W. That's all I wanted. The top two teams in the conference. That's how it was going to be. We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in."
Gaskins was all smiles but his good nature belied the intensity that went into Wednesday's game.
"We wanted it real bad, after they beat us in the second game we were already looking forward to this game," he said. "At home I couldn't even sleep. We haven't won a conference championship in a long time.
"This is my second-to-the last time on this court. I got to leave it all out there."
Gaskins admitted to a case of nerves on both the free throws – after all he's a 53.2 percent free throw shooter – and the short jumper.
"The pressure was on," he said. "We find ways to win."
That's exactly what Shulman did, deciding to put a smaller lineup on the floor in the second half including using Gaskins just on offense down the stretch.
"That was our change, going small in the second half and creating mismatches," Shulman said. "Hey, we were getting killed on the boards why not go even smaller and at least have a mismatch on one end of the floor?
"Overtime I just went with gut. He (Gaskins) is a better defensive presence than offensive and I did the opposite. I felt good about him on some offensive possessions and I wanted to go small on defensive possessions in overtime."
Speaking of offense, Evans finished with just nine points but none were bigger than the three-pointer.
Freshman Juri Gunjina added 11 for BCC. Freshman Grant White led Palm Beach with 13, the only Panther in double figures.