DANVILLE — In a battle of attrition, the South Suburban Bulldogs had just enough to beat the Garrett College Lakers 97-96 in overtime at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
South Suburban (30-6) lost three players to fouls, while Garrett College (20-12) lost three starters to injuries in the consolation bracket semifinal contest at the Mary Miller Gymnasium.
"It was like who was going to grit it out the most,'' said South Suburban coach John Pigatti. "Their point guard (Corey Grooms) was out, (Frank) Holloway was out and then we had guys that fouled out.
Our bench did a great job of executing, and executing from different positions.''
The Bulldogs wound up outscored the Lakers 41-31 in bench scoring with Johnny Stevens scoring a season-high 24 points, including 20 in the second half.
According to Pigatti, Stevens didn't become eligible until the second semester and then he missed a number of games because of a concussion.
But his outside shooting, as he was 6-of-9 from 3-point range, along with Antonio Levy, who scored a game-high 34 points, really propelled South Suburban in the second half.
"They are our best shooters, so they have to take the shots against a zone, Pigatti said. "The bottom line you have to make shots against zone. You are not going to get layups.''
After passing up the potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation, Levy got things started the right way in overtime with a 3-pointer and he followed that up with three-point play.
"I was wide open,'' Levy said of his shot just 20 seconds into the overtime session. "I was shocked because I wasn't open that much. I knew I had to shoot it, so I just shot it.''
The six straight points for Levy to start the overtime session gave South Suburban a lead they would never relinquish, but Garrett did have an opportunity with 5.9 seconds left after a pair of missed free throws by Anthony Strickland. But Lakers guard Van Jones desperation shot was well off the mark.