CSU-Pueblo 91, Western New Mexico 90 (2OT)
Third time's a charm. Just ask Roman Van Allen (Sr., Los Angeles, Calif.).
Van Allen had not one, not two but three chances to ice the win for the ThunderWolves, and he finally got his chance at the close of the second overtime period in a huge game at Western New Mexico Saturday, converting a game-winning three-point play to lift the Pack to victory in the closing seconds, winning 91-90.
Van Allen's first chance to win the game at the close of regulation. With the Pack having control on the last possession tied at 66 with three seconds remaining, Van Allen was fouled, sending him to the line for a one-and-one. But Van Allen, shooting over 80 percent from the charity stripe for the season, couldn't sink the free throw, sending the game to its first overtime.
At the close of the first overtime, Van Allen again made a bid to win it. Western New Mexico, having a chance to ice it themselves, leading 77-76 with eight seconds remaining and inbounding the ball on their own offensive end. Van Allen and Marc Williams (Sr., Seattle, Wash.) got a deflection on the inbound, getting a steal and prompting an immediate foul, sending Van Allen to the line for two shots. Needing both to seal the win, Van Allen missed the first free throw before sinking the second, sending the game to its second overtime.
In the second round of bonus basketball, CSU-Pueblo was seemingly sailing to an anticlimactic overtime victory, leading by four, 86-82, with 1:43 remaining. But the Mustangs undertook a 7-0 run, culminating in a three by Chad Carter with 28 seconds remaining, putting Western New Mexico up 89-86.
The Pack responded with a Van Allen jumper, bringing the ThunderWolves to within 89-88. The Pack committed an immediate foul to get possession back, and watched as the Mustangs' Lucio Luttrell went 1-for-2 from the line, giving the Pack the ball with eight seconds remaining, trailing 90-88.
This time, Van Allen took the ball again, driving through the lane for a layup and drawing a foul in the process. Tied at 90 with 0.3 seconds on the clock, Van Allen got the shot he had waited all night for, sinking the charity to give the Pack the 91-90 victory.
Van Allen finished the game with a team-high 19 points, coming away with seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and even two blocks - a rarity for the 6-foot tall guard. Joining Van Allen with a big game was Chris Busch (Sr., Oakland, Calif.), who had a double-double, netting 17 points and 12 boards. Williams also added 17 points.
The cardiac-inducing game couldn't have come on a bigger night - the win may have practically clinched a ticket to the postseason for the ThunderWolves. CSU-Pueblo, now at 10-7 in RMAC play, is a game up Western New Mexico for the final playoff spot from the RMAC West Division, with two games to play. Since the ThunderWolves own the tiebreaker over the Mustangs by virtue of their season sweep, the Pack would have to lose its final two games while the Mustangs win their final two to lose out on the postseason.