As his teammates chased him around the court, Marcus Posley thumped his chest and kept on moving, slowed only a little by fellow guard Andell Cumberbatch’s grasp.
He’d gotten this kind of reception before from this swarm of jubilant, brown-clad Bonnies, and on Wednesday night, he got it once more.
Posley, again, the hero.
With his team down one and only 4.8 seconds showing — which was the case only after .8 seconds was added to the clock — the 6-foot-1 guard collected his own inbound pass from Youssou Ndoye and raced down the left side of the floor.
At that point, Bona was facing the prospect of a demoralizing loss, Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge drilling the go-ahead 3-pointer just moments earlier. But Posley managed to get into the lane and toss up a runner, one that fell just as the buzzer sounded to give the Bonnies a dramatic 62-61 upset victory over the Wildcats before 4,264 silenced observers inside John M. Belk Arena.
“Thank goodness they put .8 seconds up on the clock,” said Bona coach Mark Schmidt, who had been hopping up and down on his one good leg in celebration.
“We have certain plays for certain situations and that was something we worked on in practice. Marcus did a tremendous job of getting the ball up the court quickly and hitting a tough shot.”
Bona (12-8, 5-4), which had gotten itself in that position with a strong defensive effort and by taking advantage of the size difference inside, wasn’t sure it would have enough time for a shot like that. But it entrusted its prospects to Posley, who’d come up so big at the end of the Duquesne game two weeks earlier.
His shot hit between the rim and the backboard as the red light around the basket lit up … and then fell through.
“As soon as I released it, I didn’t even look at the ball go in the basket,” said the junior guard, who finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds. “I was just looking at the clock to (see if I got it off) and the ball happened to go in.”
Bona, a nine-point underdog coming in, ended the Wildcats’ run of 15-straight victories inside Belk Arena dating back to last season. The only other team to beat them in the Charlotte area this season was North Carolina.
It toppled a team ranked No. 33 in the nation in the Pomeroy ratings as of Wednesday, one that was receiving Top 25 votes just a week ago.
How big of a win was this was?
“It’s a great win, it’s a confidence builder for our guys,” said Schmidt, whose Bonnies stopped a two-game losing skid and offset, a least a little, last Saturday’s home loss to La Salle.
“No one gave us a chance to come down here and win tonight. The guys played with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders.”
Bona, which had an early 10-2 lead, but went into halftime down four, defended the high-scoring Wildcats better than anybody had all season, holding them to a season-low 61 points and just 41 percent from the field (Davidson had been averaging 81 points and shooting 47 percent from the field).
It surrendered nine 3-pointers (on 22 attempts), but even that number was one below the Wildcats’ per-game average, and hounded coach Bob McKillop’s team on the perimeter all game. Additionally, it held Davidson leading scorer Tyler Kalinoski to just 11 points (only four in the second half) and wiped away just about anything the Wildcats brought inside.
“We contested shots, we fought,” Schmidt said. “We just competed, and, at this level, you got to play hard if you’re going to give yourself a chance, and we did that.”
Youssou Ndoye, who finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, and Dion Wright, who contributed 14 points, added strong games inside for the Bonnies, who shot 43 percent and found some of the offense that had been missing the last two games.
And all of that allowed Bona to remain in what was virtually a one-possession game over the final 20 minutes.
“We did the things we needed to do,” Schmidt said. “We knocked them off the line, we held them to 39 percent for the game, we outrebounded them by 15. And we took much better care of the ball in the second half, with only four turnovers. We gave ourselves a chance.”
With 1:03 left, Jordan Barham made a jumper to bring Davidson to within one at 59-58. Both teams then had misses on their next possessions before Posley made one-of-two at the line after being intentionally fouled to make it 60-58.
That’s when the Wildcats came down down and got what could have been the deathknell from the freshman Aldridge, a 3-pointer from right in front of his team’s bench. But, Posley, came through.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “We just kept our heads up. They hit a big shot, but we all just believed in Coach and paid attention to what he drew up on the board. We went out and executed.
“We knew we had some time to get down the floor. We’re thankful that we were able to break that press and get off a decent look.”