But if the 5-foot-9 junior was experiencing any jitters, he certainly didn’t show it, swishing his second foul shot to provide the winning margin in the Red Devils’ thrilling 61-60 victory against their Bay Counties League West rival.
“I just told myself to relax,” said Lew, who scored eight of his 14 points during a frantic second half. “We were at home, so I knew it would be nice and quiet. Fortunately, I was able to knock the second one down.”
Lew got to the line after drawing a foul against Stuart Hall’s Mars Pasache, who provided some heroics of his own in the fourth quarter.
Pasache, the only senior on Stuart Hall who plays significant minutes, finished two gritty drives to the hoop in the final minute, the last one coming with eight seconds to play, tying the score at 60-60. His two buckets were sandwiched around a floater by University junior center Naod Sebhatlieb, who finished the night with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
With both teams playing a healthy dose of full-court pressure and employing freewheeling offenses with plenty of green lights to shooters, the game was a back-and-forth affair, as neither squad led by more than seven points.
Stuart Hall appeared to seize the momentum in the third quarter, when a thunderous dunk by 6-foot-4 junior Armani Collins put the Knights up three at 47-44. However, Red Devils senior forward Jack Gale nailed the last of his five 3-pointers with two seconds left in the period, sending the contest tied into the fourth quarter and setting the stage for Lew’s clutch free throws.
Gale led University with 18 points. Junior guard Tyler Ryan paved the way for the Knights with 19 points, while Collins added 15.
With the win, University improves to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in the BCL West. Stuart Hall falls to 11-5 and 1-1 in league play.
“It’s only our second league game, but it’s important to start off well,” said Lew. “We knew this was going to be a tough, physical contest. I’m happy we were able to come away with a win.”