BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Olivet’s (Mich.) DaunTrell Hill led all scorers with 25 points, as the Comets held off a furious comeback bid by the Union College men’s basketball team late in the second half, on their way to an 83-80 victory at Robsion Arena on Tuesday evening.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 4-3 overall, while Olivet improved to 1-3 on the year with the victory.
In the first half, Olivet raced out to a big lead, on the heels of some cold shooting by Union. In the half, the Bulldogs shot just 35 percent from the floor (1-of-10 from three point range), while Olivet shot 57 percent, eventually opening up a 16-point lead (39-23) with four minutes to go in the period.
Union began to pick up the pace towards the end of the first half, but still faced a 10-point deficit of 47-37 at halftime. Olivet’s Reece Koepke nailed a three with a second left in the period to give the Comets the double-digit edge at the break.
To start the second half, Olivet continued their hot shooting from the floor, and opened up a 51-36 lead over the Bulldogs with 16 minutes remaining. Here, Union began to gradually chip away at the lead, eventually cutting the deficit down to five points (61-56) with 10 minutes left after a James Strange jumper.
Over the next few minutes, Union would cut into the lead further, getting it down to a single point (69-68) with six minutes left after a Josh Smith jumper. But, each time UC cut into their lead, Olivet would come right back and score, preventing the Bulldogs from taking a lead, or even tying the game up.
Things finally came to a head with 1:52 left, as Olivet held a 80-76 lead after a made free throw.
On their next trip down the floor, Archie Adams nailed a jumper to make it 80-78 with 1:26 left. Following a missed Olivet free throw after a UC foul with a minute left, Matthew Thomas was fouled going up for a shot with 45 seconds left. Thomas proceeded to nail the two free throws, and the Bulldogs had finally tied the game up at 80-all.
However, with 18 seconds left, Olivet’s Garner Small nailed a shot in the lane, on which he was fouled, giving the Comets an 82-80 lead. Small proceeded to miss the free throw, but on UC’s next trip down the floor, they turned it over, giving Olivet’s the ball with nine seconds left.
After a Union foul, Small made one of two free throws, giving the Comets a three-point lead, but a chance for Union to tie it up. Unfortunately, at the buzzer, Thomas’ desperation three was missed, and Olivet hung on to knock off the Bulldogs by three.
Overall, Union had four players score in double-digits, led by Adams, who finished with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Meanwhile, Thomas and Sergio Gonzalez each had 14 points, and Strange finished with 13 points.
Olivet’s Hill led the Comets three double-digit scorers with his 25 point night. Hill also dished out a game-high nine assists, as well.
The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday, traveling to rival Cumberlands (Ky.) for an out-of-conference tilt. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.