BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Al'Lonzo Coleman scored 30 points and pulled down 14 rebounds Saturday, including two free throws with seven seconds left to seal a 68-62 Presbyterian win over Gardner-Webb.
Gardner-Webb (12-19, 6-12 Big South) had a chance to tie the game at 64 with 22.3 seconds left with a pair of free throws, but both were off the mark. The 'Dogs tipped out the offensive rebound, but the ball was lost near halfcourt and Presbyterian's Eric Washington scooped up the loose ball and raced in for a layup and 66-62 with 17.6 seconds left.
A turnover by the 'Dogs on the ensuing possession gave Presbyterian (14-15, 8-10 Big South) the ball back and Coleman knocked down both of his free throws on the other end to secure the victory.
Presbyterian held a 33-28 lead at halftime, and stretched that lead to 38-30 with 17:56 to play in the game - but saw Donta Harper and Laron Buggs spark a 10-1 run to give Gardner-Webb a 40-39 lead with 13:54 remaining. The two teams traded baskets and leads over the next eight minutes, with the Runnin' Bulldogs taking their final lead of the game on a pair of Buggs' free throws with 5:59 left - giving the hosts a 51-50 edge.
Coleman spearheaded an 10-2 run from that point, scoring six points, then dishing off an assist with 2:25 left to give Jay Reynolds a layup and Presbyterian a 60-53 lead.
Buggs converted an old-fashioned, 3-point play with 2:08 left to cut the lead to four then, after a jumper by Khalid Mutakabbir put the Blue Hose up 62-56, Kevin Hartley drained a 3-pointer to make the score 62-59. Mutakabbir connected on a layup for a 64-59 Presbyterian lead with 1:10 on the clock - but Buggs kept Gardner-Webb alive with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:01 remaining to trim the lead to 64-62.
Gardner-Webb got the defensive stop it needed with 40.2 seconds left and Buggs was fouled driving to the basket with 22.3 seconds left - just missing a runner that would have tied the game. Both of his free throws missed the mark, however and Washington was able to dash in for the loose ball near midcourt to extend Presbyterian's lead.
Buggs tied a career-high with 19 points, including 17 in the second half. Donta Harper tied his own career-high with 14 points 6-of-11 shooting and Stefon Johnson added eight points and six rebounds. Leading scorer Tashan Newsome finished with only four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Gardner-Webb shot 42.4 percent for the game (25-of-59) and made just 8-of-14 from the charity stripe (57.1 percent). The 'Dogs were efficient from long range, making 4-of-9 baskets from outside the 3-point arc.
Presbyterian was red hot in the second half, shooting 59.1 percent (13-of-22) and hitting at a 55.8 percent clip for the game. The Blue Hose missed 12 free throws, but made 18, holding a solid 10-point advantage at the free throw line.
In addition to Coleman's big night, Presbyterian got 10 points and five assists from Mutakabbir and nine points off the bench from Josh Clyburn.
Gardner-Webb will begin play in the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Men's Basketball Tournament on Monday night at No. 8 High Point. Opening tip is set for 7:30 pm in the Millis Center. The Panthers and Runnin' Bulldogs each won on their home court this season in overtime.