Charleston Southern and Central Arkansas, two teams needing a win for Christmas, worked double overtime on Saturday afternoon in Conway, Ark.
Charleston Southern snapped a three-game losing streak by scoring the final eight points of the second overtime to win, 97-90, improving to 4-6 on the season.
Junior forward Cedrick Bowen scored all four of his points in the second overtime, giving CSU the lead for good at 91-90 with a tip-in, his first basket of the game.
Senior Matt Kennedy led CSU with a career-high 23 points while junior Will Saunders added 20 before fouling out in regulation. Junior guard Saah Nimley scored 19 points with seven assists and junior Arlon Harper added 15 despite playing the second half with a sprained shoulder.
"What a gutsy effort by so many guys, especially Arlon Harper," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "He gave us all he had out there and was a real leader for us.
"This is a huge win for us, one we needed very badly. Our guys had plenty of opportunities to quit but we just fought so hard. We didn't play particularly well at times but we won. And this team needed a win after so many close losses."
Trailing by five with a minute to play in regulation, Charleston Southern rallied to tie the game on a pair of free throws by Harper with 10 seconds to play.
Central Arkansas had a chance to win the game with 2 seconds left but LaQuentin Miles missed a pair of free throws to extend the game into the extra session.
Free throws would be the story for Central Arkansas. The Bears made only 14 of 30 attempts with Miles missing six free throws despite finishing with a game-high 28 points.
Saunders hit four 3-pointers in the first half, including three in the first 8 minutes to help the Buccaneers to a 25-13 lead with 11:33 to play.
Central Arkansas rallied over the next 8 minutes, outscoring CSU, 28-11, and grabbing its largest lead at 41-36 with 2:45 remaining. Kennedy, who had 12 points in the first half, sparked an 8-2 run to close the half to give the Bucs a 45-43 lead at the break.
The game was tied several times in the second half. Miles' dunk and free throw gave the Bears a 74-73 lead with 3:27 remaining in the game. Dashone McClure's three-point play pushed the lead to 77-73 with 1:45 left, and Miles made it 78-73 with a putback at the 1:25 mark.
Paul Gombwer hit a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left, then followed a missed shot with a basket to cut the margin to 78-77 with 24 seconds remaining.
After Lenell Brown hit one free throw for a two-point lead, Harper tied the game with his free throws.
In the overtime, CSU managed four free throws to take an 83-82 lead but trailed 86-83 late before Nimley drained a long 3-pointer to tie the game with 26 seconds left in the period.
In the second extra session, Nimley tied the game at 89 with a 3-pointer. After Miles gave the Bears a one-point lead with a free throw, Bowen scored four straight to give CSU the 93-90 lead. Nimley added a basket with 20 seconds left and Kennedy sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
"This certainly makes the trip home a lot more enjoyable," said Radebaugh. "It's the type of win that can change our season."