With Samford defenders hounding Cameron Wells' every dribble, The Citadel needed someone else to play the hero Thursday night.
Guard Ben Cherry, a walk-on freshman, was the unlikely candidate.
Cherry connected on three huge 3-pointers down the stretch, and Bryan Streeter's rebound basket with 12 seconds remaining lifted The Citadel to a 61-57 win over Samford before 1,440 fans at McAlister Field House.
On a night when Wells managed just eight points -- 12 below his average in Southern Conference basketball games -- Austin Dahn and Harrison DuPont also stepped up, with 15 and 13 points respectively, as The Citadel recovered from blowing double-digit leads at Georgia Southern and Davidson last week.
"It's all in how you bounce back," Streeter said after The Citadel improved to 11-12 overall and 5-6 in the SoCon South, tied with Furman for fourth place. "We talked about it in the last few days of practice, about not hanging our heads if they made a big run."
Samford (9-14, 3-8 SoCon) did make a big run, as it tried hard to win for coach Jimmy Tillette, back on the bench after missing three games because of a seizure he suffered Jan. 23.
Junior guard Josh Davis scored a game-high 24 points, and a 22-8 spurt gave Samford a 45-34 lead with 10:26 left.
It looked grim for The Citadel.
"When you are down 11 to a team that executes like Samford, you just don't see many teams come back against a Jimmy Tillette team," Citadel coach Ed Conroy said. "But after everything our guys have gone through, for them to recheck themselves at that 10:30 mark and find a way to win this game, I could not be prouder of them."
After watching Wells score 11 of The Citadel's final 14 points in a 51-50 win at Samford on Jan. 16, Tillette was determined that would not happen again. His sagging man-to-man and zone defenses limited Wells to 2 of 10 shooting as the all-SoCon guard scored in single digits for just the second time in 23 games.
But Wells turned into a playmaker with seven assists (along with eight rebounds and four blocks), and Cherry, the 6-2 knob from Charlotte, was his favorite target down the stretch.
Down by 45-34, DuPont and then Cherry hit 3-pointers to kickstart a 10-0 run that got The Citadel back in the game at 45-44 with 7:49 to play.
On an inbounds play, Cherry tied the game at 51-51 on a deep 3-pointer from the left corner at 3:35. And his third 3-pointer, off a dish from Wells with 2:12 left, gave The Citadel a 57-54 lead.
"Cam was bringing in four guys in the lane with him," Cherry said. "And then everybody wants to guard (Zach Urbanus), because he's a great shooter. So I was wide open in the corner, and it was a good find by Cam."
Samford used backdoor cuts to good effect all night, and Bryan Friday found Trey Montgomery on one last cut to tie it at 57-57 with 45 seconds left. Samford denied Wells the ball, forcing Cherry to take and miss a jumper in the lane. But the 6-6 Streeter grabbed the rebound, his eighth of the game, and shoveled it in for a 59-57 lead with 12.8 seconds left.
Davis came off a curl and airballed a 3-pointer with three seconds left for Samford, and Wells hit two free throws for the final margin.
"Huge rebound at the end for Streeter," Conroy said. "You can't really put a stat on it, but he did a great job on them defensively in what they do. It was probably a career high for him in minutes (37), and I know I didn't want to take him off the floor."
Dahn hit four of his first five 3-pointers and added three free throws with 2:43 left for 15 points, after scoring just two in the previous two games.
DuPont added seven rebounds to his 13 points, and Cherry finished with nine points.
The Citadel hosts Chattanooga on Saturday, while Samford is at College of Charleston.