RICHMOND, Ind. – For Earlham College men's basketball, it was a perfect way to end the season. And for Quaker seniors Elijah Wilson-Thomas and Cezannie Mount, it was the storybook way to close out their collegiate careers.
Wilson-Thomas' runner with 5.7 seconds on the clock lifted Earlham to a 74-73 overtime win over visiting Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Mount St. Joseph on Saturday at the Druley Performance Gym, capping a dramatic comeback for a Quaker squad that trailed by 12 points at the 6:13 mark of the second half.
Wilson-Thomas was also responsible for the points that sent Earlham and Mount St. Joseph, who came into the game atop the HCAC standings, into the OT period. His conventional 3-point play with 21 seconds left in regulation knotted the game at 66-66, and a desperation jumper at the buzzer by the Lions' Erik Edwards was wide of the mark.
Those buckets were part of a 23-point night for Wilson-Thomas, who went 6-of-12 from the floor and was 9-of-11 at the free-throw line.
That foul shooting performance also landed Wilson-Thomas in the NCAA men's basketball record book as the Division III leader in career free-throw shooting percentage. His 260-of-281 mark at the line yields a .9253 percentage, eclipsing the previous record of .9249 (431-of-466) held by former Johns Hopkins guard Andy Enfield.
Enfield is currently the head men's basketball coach at the University of Southern California.
Cezannie Mount helped bookend the senior class on-court dramatics for the Quakers. Making the most of the senior day start, Mount drained a pair of nothing-but-net 3-pointers on his first two trips down the court after the opening tip, giving the Lions a gut-punch with the 6-0 Quaker lead just 50 seconds into the game.
Mount St. Joseph (17-8, 14-4 Heartland) rallied to hold a 10-point lead by the 7:08 mark of the opening frame, only to watch Earlham slowly chip away and cut the margin to 30-24 in the Lions' favor at the intermission.
The Lions held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, before the Quakers began to make their move in the final five minutes of the frame.
A 3-pointer by Wilson-Thomas at the 2:41 mark cut the deficit to four, 63-59, and a Stalling jumper followed by a pair of Chainey Zollman foul shots brought the Quakers to within one with 1:02 to play.
MSJ's Andrew Finley answered with a layup with 34 seconds on the clock to give the Lions a three-point lead, setting the stage for Wilson-Thomas' game-tying plus-one to force overtime.
The Lions led by three, 73-70, following an Adam Goetz trey at the 1:58 mark, and Wilson-Thomas cut the margin to one with a pair of foul shots with 52 seconds showing. Goetz turned the ball over in the ensuing possession, and Wilson-Thomas finished off with the game-winning points.
Wilson-Thomas finished his career with 1,252 points, and ranked 18th among Earlham men's basketball career scoring leaders.
Three Lions finished the night in double-figures, led by Edwards and Finley with 17 points each. Goetz tallied 13 points.
For more information about Earlham men's basketball, visit the online home of Earlham College athletics at www.GoEarlham.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Earlham athletics news by following Earlham Quakers on Facebook (Earlham Quakers Athletics), Twitter (@EarlhamQuakers), and Instagram (EarlhamQuakers).