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---- — DANVILLE — Wake Tech sophomore Joshua Mellette scored six of his game-high 31 points in overtime to lead the Eagles past the Potomac State Catamounts 93-85 in an NJCAA Division II National Tournament first-round contest at the Mary Miller Gymnasium on the campus of Danville Area Community College.
“This was big,’’ said Mellette. “This is our school’s first year here. It’s a great experience, but we also want to win the National Championship.’’
Wake Tech (24-10) felt right at home in the overtime period as the Eagles advanced to the National Tournament with a pair of overtime victories over No. 1-rated Richard Bland and Louisburg College in their Region Tournament.
“We continued to fight,’’ said Wake Tech coach Joe Mitchell. “We’ve had the experience over playing in overtime, so it wasn’t something new to us. We knew what it took to come out with a victory.
“We just had to make sure to stay together. We have been here before (in overtime) and we knew what to do.’’
The two teams exchanged the lead three times in the final 22.8 seconds, and it looked like a 3-pointer by Michael Adams with 4.7 seconds was enough for Wake Tech, who took a 79-77 lead.
But, Potomac State rushed back down the court and freshman Derondell Jenkins was credited with a basket with 00.5 seconds left as Wake Tech was called for goal tending.
“The ref made the call, I thought it was actually a foul call,’’ Mitchell said. “Things happen. It’s tournament time, it can go either way. Our guys continued to fight, because we knew we had an overtime game.’’
The Catamounts (20-9) also tried to rally in the overtime period, but instead of going to the basket, Potomac State’s Reggie Baker, who had a team-high 28 points, attempted a pair of 3-pointers.
“In that situation, we would prefer to go to the basket,’’ Potomac State coach Justin Anderson said. “When you are in the heat of the game. Shots will either go in or they will not.’’
But, those were not the biggest plays of the game for the Catamounts.
“We had that one key turnover at the end of regulation that changed the momentum down the stretch,’’ said Anderson as Potomac State had a 75-74 lead when they committed the offensive miscue. “We have been in games like this all year long, and we’re at our best when we push the ball. We just needed to take care of it better.’’
Baker scored eight straight points in the second half giving Potomac State a 72-68 lead with just over three minutes remaining, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore from Florida was held scoreless for the final 8:02 of the contest.
Wake Tech sealed its victory, making 8-of-11 from the free-throw line in the overtime period.
After Mellette’s 31 for Wake Tech, there was Adams with 15, Waymond Wright had 13 and Jordan Jones chipped in with 11. Mellette was the team leader with 8 rebounds, while Wright had a game-high six assists.
While Baker led Potomac State with 28 points, Marcus Banks finished with 22, Jenkins had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Marcus James had 11 in the losing cause.
With the victory, Wake Tech advances to Wednesday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal contest against Wayne County, while Potomac State falls into the consolation bracket and a 3 p.m. game on Wednesday against Carl Sandburg College.