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Drew David’s buzzer-beating top-of-the-key three-pointer lifted Kaneland past visiting Sycamore 43-42 and kept the Knights atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 East standings.
“We were trying to get a slip into Matt[(Limbrunner], but their guys just didn’t bite,” David explained in regard to his first-ever buzzer-beating game-winner. “So I had to take the shot and when it left my hand, it felt good, dead on.”
The victory bumped Kaneland to 11-6 overall and the Knights remain the only one-loss (5-1) team in the NIB12-E having avenged an early December 60-46 loss at Sycamore (11-8, 2-3), one of the many early contests David was sidelined for following a football injury.
Trailing by nine just after halftime, Kaneland rallied for a 33-all draw just before the Spartans ended the third quarter ahead 36-33. The hosts drew even at 36-all only to have Sycamore claim a 40-36 edge with 5:24 remaining.
Having missed much of the first half due to foul trouble, Limbrunner sparked the comeback with four field goals in the third quarter and then had consecutive rebound putbacks for the Knights’ 38th and 40th points, the later coming with 1:11 remaining. The Spartans got only the front half of one-and-bonus opportunities from Devin Mottet and David Compher to keep the door open for the hosts.
“We had a lot of key guys in foul trouble, but several guys off the bench stepped up early and at half I told Drew and Matt they really had to step up,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “Sycamore played us real physical and hard early, so we talked about getting the lead around three heading into the last quarter.
“We were hoping to get into Matt inside; we were fortunate to get the last-second shot by Drew, although he did have a nice shot fake to get himself open,” Johnson noted.
“We had a rough first half and knew we had to re-set our attack in order to get even,” added Limbrunner, who paced Kaneland with 12 points. “Things just kind of happened at the end and I was able to tip [pass] to Drew who got open.”
David and Tyler Carlson both finished with 10 points for the Knights while Sycamore got 12-point efforts from Scott Nelson and Ben Niemann.