ELGIN, Ill. – Facing intense pressure from Rock Valley in the closing seconds, the Harper College men's basketball team maintained their composure and pulled out an 85-80 upset victory over the No. 3 Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks (9-7, 1-1 N4C) led 80-73 with 1:40 to play as Bradley Reibel (/Prospect) (game-high 24 points) hit a floater with the shot clock winding down. The Golden Eagles (14-3, 1-1 N4C) cut it to 81-79 on a Frank Cimino (team-high 19 points) 3-pointer with 33.4 seconds to play.
Coming out of a timeout, Rock Valley applied a full court press but had to foul Reibel, who calmly sank a pair of free throws to make it 83-79. The Golden Eagles' Tairhe Turner split a pair of free throws on the other end to cut it to 83-80. The Hawks once again escaped the pressure, and Tyler Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows ) hit a pair of free throws with 14.7 seconds left to seal the win.
"This is a huge confidence booster for us. We beat a good Rock Valley team," Reibel said. "To get this win – that's a big stepping stone."
Rock Valley built a 16-11 lead in the game's first seven minutes, but the Hawks kept it close and took 28-26 lead on a Reibel basket. Harper went ahead 36-28 with 5:01 to play after Tairhe Turner was called for a technical foul. The Golden Eagles went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, but Reibel's three-point play with 50 seconds left in the half gave the Hawks a 39-38 edge.
The Golden Eagles came out sizzling in the first few minutes of the second half, hitting three 3-pointers during an 11-2 run to gain a 49-42 advantage. The Hawks quieted the run and tied the game at 55-55 on a Reibel basket and took the lead for good at 66-64 on a Kevin Walsh (/St. Viator) (14 points) 3-pointer with 6:45 to play.
"Kevin (Sexton) and Kevin (Walsh) have been telling me to be a lot more aggressive in regards to shooting the ball," said Reibel, who finished 10-of-13 from the floor. "I got it going early with two jump shots, so I used that as my go-to tonight."
The next possession, Walsh stole a pass and completed a three-point play to make it 69-64. On the next trip down the court, Harper's Erik Porter committed a personal foul and technical foul on the same play, allowing Rock Valley to cut the deficit to 69-68 with 6:09 to play.
The Hawks responded with baskets from Walsh and Gaedele (12 points ) to keep the lead and eventually stretch it to 78-70 with 2:24 left after a key Charles Wright (Cheyenne, Wyo./Cheyenne East) offensive rebound and pair of free throws.
The Golden Eagles struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 58.1 percent (18-of-31) while the Hawks converted 69.6 percent (16-of-23).
The Hawks are back on the court Monday night for a non-conference showdown at Richard J. Daley College (6-9).