Aberdeen overcame a horrendous shooting slump behind point guard Paul Smith, who scored a game-high 25 points and hit 10 consecutive foul shots in the fourth quarter to lead the Eagles to a 48-45 victory at Oakland Mills last night.
Smith made four free throws in the final 11 seconds to nudge Aberdeen past the Scorpions (0-4), who led for most of the second half.
Smith hit both ends of a one-and-one with 2:05 left to give the Eagles (2-1) a 42-41 lead, their first advantage since leading 19-17 at halftime. Then, after Michael Hill and Rick Alvarado scored to put the Scorpions on top, 45-44, with 17 seconds remaining, Smith hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to push Aberdeen back in front. His two free throws with four seconds left sealed the victory. Antoine Barnes' three-point shot at the buzzer hit the back of the rim for the Scorpions.
Smith's heroics erased a scoring drought of major proportions for Aberdeen. The Eagles, after taking a 17-6 lead with 6:52 left in the first half, scored only two points over the next 13 minutes, as Oakland Mills took a 27-19 lead late in the third period.
The Eagles finally awakened by running off seven points in the final 1:40 of the period, then struck for 22 points in the fourth period to overtake the Scorpions, who committed 20 turnovers, including four in the final three minutes.
"When things got rough, we didn't fall apart. We stayed together as a unit," said Smith, who hit 12 of 15 free throws.
"I'm glad to get out of here with a win, because I didn't like what I was seeing out there for a long time," Aberdeen coach Ron Petrey said. "It's encouraging. We sucked it up in the last four minutes and came from behind to win the game."
Thomas Williams also gave Aberdeen a lift. Despite a sprained ankle that had him limping noticeably all night, Williams scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
"We're learning, but it's painful," said Oakland Mills coach Dave Appleby. "We're tough to watch. It will take a while to come out of this, because we're so young. I'm learning how the other half lives. And nobody is going to feel sorry for us."