Close’s Game-Winning Layup Lifts Bullets to Win

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. Sophomore Avery Close (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville) knocked down the game-winning layup with one second left to lift the Gettysburg College men's basketball team to a 75-74 victory over Centennial Conference opponent McDaniel College inside Bream Gym Wednesday night.
In a game that featured four ties and nine lead changes, Close scored Gettysburg's last four points, including the layup that put the Bullets within one (75-74) at the 40-second marker.
The Bullets played exceptional defense on the next possession as the Green Terror turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. With 8.4 seconds to go, junior Danny Duffey (Huntington Valley, Pa./Lower Moreland) brought the ball down the court to set up the game-winning layup. In a composed executed play, Duffey dished the ball to Close who received the pass at the foul line, turned and drove to the basket with 1.2 seconds left to give the Bullets the thrilling victory.
Close had a phenomenal offensive performance as he registered 23 points in 24 minutes of action, hitting 10-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the free throw line, and four rebounds. Other outstanding contributions came from junior Andrew Gardiner (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Brentwood School) as he posted 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and four assists. Junior Nick Antolini (Babylon, N.Y./Babylon) added 16 points, hitting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, six assists, and five rebounds, while senior Alec Warren (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) chipped in 12 points, all of which came from threes. Duffey finished with four assists and three rebounds.
Aaron Washington paced McDaniel with 23 points, two steals, and two assists.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair right from the start, as the first 13 minutes featured two ties and five lead changes. The Bullets broke through after a 23-8 run to give them a 43-28 lead – the largest advantage of the day for either team – with 1:22 left in the first half. During that stretch, Gardiner poured out 13 points, including three treys. The visitors closed out the half by netting four points, but the Bullets maintained a 10-point advantage (43-33) as they entered the locker room.
The Bullets had their second best first-half shooting performance of the season as they made an astonishing 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field and drained 7-of-10 (70 percent) from the 3-point line.
The Orange and Blue continued to hold the lead in the second half until the Green Terror threatened by coming within one (52-51) at the 12:42 marker. McDaniel tied the game 54-all when DJ Harper drained a trey with 11:21 showing. From there, two ties and four lead changes occurred.
McDaniel went up by seven (71-64) with under five minutes remaining, but back-to-back treys by Antolini and a free throw by Close tied the game, again, at 71 apiece.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Caleb Johnson gave the visitors the three-point cushion with 53 seconds left. But an assist by Warren and Duffey set up Close for the big finish.
Gettysburg finished 27-of-51 (52.9 percent) from the floor, while McDaniel shot almost the same, making 52 percent (26-of-50). It was a shooting battle of the threes as the Bullets shot a season-best 60.0 percent (12-of-20), while the Green Terror hit 14-of-20 (70 percent). McDaniel edged the Bullets on the glass 28-23.
Gettysburg makes its final home appearance of the season against Washington College (11-11, 7-8 CC) on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. There will be a brief ceremony before the start of the game to honor this year's senior class.