Virgil Harraway, who teamed with Paul Gillies to score 25 second-half points, sank four free throws in the final minute Tuesday night to lead LA Baptist to a 61-56 come-from-behind victory at Cal Lutheran.
The Kingsmen, who dropped to 5-16 and 2-1 in NAIA District 3 play, had the ball with 20 seconds left but a hurried shot by Erik Slattum from close-in was short, allowing the Mustangs to hang on.
"We more or less got our second option," said Cal Lutheran Coach Ed Anderson. "We wanted to go to (Dave) Lareva's side but they made us go to the other side instead."
Anderson stood firm on his decision not to hold the ball for the last shot.
"We always want to get the best opening we can and get another chance if we miss," Anderson said. "If we were tied, it would have been different."
Cal Lutheran had led by as many as nine, 26-17, with 1:58 left in a first half when the visitors hit only 7 of 25 shots. But the Mustangs kept their Northern Division rivals within reach at halftime, trailing, 26-22.
The Kingsmen, who scored 10 consecutive points during a 14-2 run early in the first half, took a 44-38 lead with 12:24 left on a three-point play by Lareva, who made his first start since his return from a knee injury, and led the Kingsmen with 11 points. Slattum blocked five shots for Cal Lutheran to give him a team-high 40 for the season.
"They are the type of club that is tough inside for their size," said Mustang Coach Pete Reese. "You cannot relax at all or they're gonna burn you."
Neither team led by more than three points over the final 11 minutes as Cal Lutheran took its final lead, 56-55, with 3:08 left. But Pat Gibbs, nursing a sore knee, threw a pass out of bounds and then fouled Harraway the next time the Mustangs had the ball.
The junior guard then sank two free throws to give LA Baptist a 57-56 lead and, with 20 seconds left, he blocked a shot under the basket by Erik Slattum out of bounds.
After a Kingsmen timeout, Darren Ranck inbounded to Slattum, who missed his three-foot fall-away from the left baseline with 15 seconds left. Two offensive rebounds and two misses later, LA Baptist, 11-6 and 1-1 in league, had the game in hand.