OWENSBORO, Ky. - With Tiffin trailing Wheeling by two, Trent Williams drained a three with one second left to lead the Dragons to a 77-74 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday to close out the KWC Thanksgiving Classic.
Joshua Williams added a pair of free throws before the final horn sounded, as Tiffin improved to 5-3 on the year and handed Wheeling their first loss of the season in six games.
The heroics came moments after Tiffin nearly gave the game away, as after the Dragons were ahead 72-68 with 2:13 to play, Wheeling scored six unanswered points to take a 74-72 advantage with less than 30 seconds remaining. After not finding any luck early in the ensuing possession, the Dragons took a timeout with just a few seconds on the clock. Inbounding from the baseline, Thomas Hickman found Williams in the corner. After a couple fakes, Williams rose and nailed the three with a hand in his face and sent the Dragon bench into a frenzy.
The freshman also tied his career-high in points with 17 on the afternoon, going 3-5 from deep while adding four assists. Fellow first-year player Wesley Jordan also notched a career-high in scoring, recording 19 points, nine rebounds, and a pair of blocks.
While Wheeling held the advantage in shooting from the field, Tiffin finished with a 36.8%-35.7% advantage from deep, going 7-19 on the afternoon. The Dragons also won the turnover battle, forcing 18 while committing just 12, which led to a huge advantage in points off turnovers at 24-10.
Tiffin's bench also vastly outperformed Wheeling's reserves, scoring 32 points to the Cardinals' seven.
Wheeling got off to a hot start, leading 21-8 after the fist ten minutes of the game. Tiffin roared back, however, cutting the deficit to one, 29-28, with a 20-8 run capped by Clifton nailing a triple. The Cardinals would not surrender the lead just yet, though, scoring five of the final six points of the half to take a 34-29 lead into the break.
Down by four early in the second-half, Jordan went on a 6-0 run all by himself to give the Dragons their first lead of the game with an and-one and a three on back-to-back possessions.
The remainder of the half was extremely tight, with neither team taking more than a four-point lead during the period until Tiffin went up 71-65 with 2:54 to play. Wheeling quickly hit a three which, after a Josh Williams free throw, began the run that gave the Cardinals the late lead before Trent Williams snatched the game away for Tiffin in the final seconds.
The Dragons will look to ride the momentum from Saturday's thrilling win into conference play next weekend when they embark on the southern swing portion of the GMAC schedule. Tiffin will visit Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville on Thursday before returning to Owensboro on Saturday to take on Kentucky Wesleyan.