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Reliving a thrilling Thursday thanks to UNC Asheville, Northeastern and others

Some winning streaks survived, one didn’t.

NCAA Basketball: NC-Asheville at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The bright lights were shining Thursday night.

A UNC-Duke, Oregon-UCLA doubleheader will do that.

But if you stared too hard at those bright lights (and there’s no shame in that), you may have missed some wild college basketball. That included a double overtime thriller between UNC Asheville and Winthrop.

“I think it was one of the great Big South basketball games, maybe ever,” Asheville coach Nick McDevitt [told the Herald]. “I thought Winthrop played terrific. Keon Johnson was unbelievable; we had nothing for him.”

Johnson was more than terrific, scoring 40 points and becoming the Eagles’ all-time leading scorer. But UNCA came out with a 104-101 win, in large part because of a star of its own: MaCio Teague. The freshman drilled a three at the buzzer to force the first overtime, and blocked Johnson in the final seconds of the second overtime.

The win moves UNCA into a first place tie with Liberty, which won its own double overtime game at Gardner-Webb. But neither of those were even the most exciting game in the South.

That went to Wofford and Samford, which battled for four overtimes before a 131-127 Terriers’ win. Some stats from that basketball bonanza:

  • Samford’s Demetrius Denzel-Dyson scored six points in 15 seconds in the third OT.
  • This didn’t outdo Fletcher Magee, who had six points in three seconds in the second OT.
  • Both teams had five players score in double figures.
  • The teams combined to shoot 62 three’s.
  • Wofford had four players play more than 56 minutes.
  • Despite all those tired legs, the teams shot a combined 63-for-75 from the free throw line (84.0%).

That’s all fine and well you might say, but what about game-winning buzzer beaters? No night can get the “thrilling” tag without one!

Thursday had that too, courtesy of Northeastern’s Bolden Brace.

That ending shouldn’t obscure the win itself. Northeastern has been struggling mightily lately, while College of Charleston was playing well. The Cougars’ loss vaulted UNC-Wilmington, whom they beat last week, back into first place in the CAA.

Don’t forget about the NEC, either. Wagner got a game-winner with just seconds remaining to top St. Francis (PA), while Jerome Frink played his first game in almost two years for LIU Brooklyn and scored 30 points in an overtime win over Bryant.

And then there were the winning streaks.

Vermont extended its streak to 14 with an 82-74 home win over New Hampshire. The Catamounts are nearing the end of a grinding, four games in eight days stretch. Their reward? A tough road game at UMBC on Saturday.

No. 1 Gonzaga also has a pretty long winning streak going that you may know about. The Zags took care of business at Loyola Marymount with a 90-60 win, in a game that prominently featured their talented young big men: Zach Collins (11 points, 5 rebounds) and Killian Tillie (11 points, 6 rebounds).

Gonzaga’s now 25-game winning streak gets put to the test Saturday in Moraga. Saint Mary’s might feel lucky to enter that massive game not coming off a loss. The Gaels overcame their worst non-Gonzaga offensive performance of WCC play to beat slumping Portland in an ugly 51-41 win.

And finally, there was the streak that did not survive Thursday’s madness. A tip of the hat to New Mexico State and its 20-game winning streak, which is no more. The Aggies got down big early at Cal State Bakersfield and never recovered in a 73-52 loss.