Varsity Blues comeback falls short in 2 pt loss to Charleston Southern


6’5″ Devin Johnson‘s elbow jumper with under 4 seconds to play came off and the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (NCAA Division 1 Big South conference) hung on for a 79-77 win over the U of T Varsity Blues before an energized crowd at the Goldring Center in Toronto.  Down 2 with just 30 seconds remaining, the Blues got a big defensive stop and then set up a play for their OUA All-Star forward Johnson who led all scorers with 20 points and added 11 rebounds but his shot would not fall.  The Bucs had raced to an 11 point lead mid-way through the second quarter but Toronto authored a 10-3 run that included threes from veteran 6’4″ Manny Sahota (15 points including 2-3 3’s) and 6’5″ sophomore Nick Paradina (9 points, 3-5 3’s) to cut to 4 by halftime and the game remained tight throughout.  Later, four straight points by Sahota gave the Blues their largest lead at 3 midway through the third but Bucs star 6’3″ freshman Christian Keeling came alive, scoring 13 of his team-high 19 in the final 15 minutes.  After a three by 6’5″ Jamal Thomas – one of two Toronto natives on the Charleston Southern roster – capped a 7-0 run, CSU led by 9 with just over 3 minutes to play.  But the spunky Blues were undeterred, as Sahota and Johnson quickly hit back-to-back 3’s and then another Johnson 3 got it back to 79-76 with just 34 seconds remaining.  The Blues’ Kwasi Oti-Awere then created a turnover and was fouled, making 1-2 shots to bring the Blues to within 2, setting up the final possessions of the game.  Toronto also got a solid game at the point from 6’3″ Sage Usher, who finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals including several nice finds for Johnson.  Toronto native Thomas (Bill Crothers) finished with 5 points in 15 minutes while 6’5″ forward Jamar Martin, another GTA native, added 3 points in 11 minutes.  Box Score

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