By Nick Porter
BUENA VISTA, Va. — Despite trailing by 11 points at halftime, the Southern Virginia University men's basketball team battled back in the second half to force overtime in the 2017-18 season opener with the score knotted at 68. Behind Sam Armstrong's 11 points in overtime, the Knights topped Shenandoah University 82-79.
With some halftime adjustments, the Knights (1-0) were able to improve their transition defense and find better looks after pulling down 28 of 56 total rebounds in the second half. This game marks the first time the Knights have had over 55 rebounds since a triple-overtime season-opening win at Emory & Henry on this date in 2014 (60 rebounds).
"I'm really pleased with how we competed tonight, especially in the second half," commented fifth-year head coach Tony Caputo. "We were contesting shots and rebounding on both ends, and I'm happy with how we passed the ball around and found the hot hand."
Five Knights finished in double-digits in the total-team win, led by senior forward Aarun Rumbaugh (Auburn, Wash.) who recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Cale Thornton (Lyman, Maine) pulled down a career-high 14 boards and added 15 points for a double-double.
Armstrong (Buena Vista, Va.) finished with 14 points while Alec Johnson (Bluffdale, Utah) and Justin Prisbrey (Enterprise, Utah) added 11 and 10 points, respectively. In addition to a career-high in points, Prisbrey recorded a personal-best nine rebounds.
Within the first five minutes of the second half, the Knights cut the Hornets' lead to one, spurred on by two Thornton buckets and four rebounds by the big man.
Both teams battled down the stretch before Shenandoah regained a ten-point lead with 6:10 to go. After a timeout, Southern Virginia launched a 12-2 run, with six points coming from Alec Johnson, to tie the game at 68 at the end of regulation. Neither team scored in the last 2:21.
The Hornets drew first blood in overtime with a three-pointer 20 seconds in, but Armstrong answered back with his first of 11 overtime points to tie the game at 71. Armstrong hit two more treys and a pair of free throws in OT and Rumbaugh added a bucket and a free throw to seal the deal for the Knights.
Shenandoah, in its first game under head coach Adam Walsh, shot lights-out from behind the arc, with 11-21 3s (52.4%), but averaged 35% from the field compared to the Knights' 44.7%. The Knights were able to move the ball around totaling 22 assists and swatted the Hornets five times.
Southern Virginia continues its season tomorrow at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va.