…after Gullen and Causway last-minute heroics
A dramatic Ryan Gullen three-point dagger in the dying moments coupled with a Dave Causway lay-up, lifted Guyana to a historic 76-73 victory over Bermuda in the opening fixture of their three-match international basketball series on Wednesday.
With the weight of expectation on his shoulders and with his side trailing 73-71 at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, Gullen upon receiving a pass from Travis Burnette, sent the sizeable crowd into rapture when he drilled his right-sided shot to send the home side ahead 74-73.
The wily Causway then pushed the hosts further into the driver’s seat, netting an uncontested lay-up with 10 seconds remaining following a steal in the centre of the court during Bermuda’s next possession.
Needing a three-pointer to push the fixture into overtime, Bermuda’s Sullivan Phillips would see his shot from the top of the arc hit the backboard and roll over the rim, sealing Guyana’s historic triumph.
Behind 57-51 at the end of the third stanza, the final quarter set in motion a humdinger of a finale as the Guyanese drew level at 62-62 with 4:53 remaining. Causway started the 11-5 run with a three-pointer while Akeem Kanhai, Burnette and Shelroy Thomas netted two points each through three lay-ups.
Bermuda then pulled ahead 66-62 at 4:20 through four unanswered points from Phillips through a lay-up and two foul shots.
Not to be deterred and with a vocal audience on their side, Guyana pulled within one at 69-68 at 2:26 through two free throws from Burnette. The locals then took the lead for the first time in the match at 71-69 through a Gullen jump-shot.
Phillips quickly fired back for Bermuda, levelling the score once more at 71-71 with 1:09 left on the clock through a silky lay-up. Bermuda took the lead again through a lay-up following a powerful drive inside with 40 seconds remaining at 73-71 compliments of Phillips, who was now taking on the Guyanese singlehandedly.
Nevertheless, Gullen despite struggling to impose himself for the majority of the night would have the final say as he trained the go-ahead three-pointer beyond the right side of the arc, knocking the wind out of Bermuda’s sail.
He then assisted in creating a turnover on the very next Bermuda possession which led to Causway scoring to eventually put the game out of Bermuda’s grasp.
Burnette top-scored in the win with 17 points and seven steals while Thomas was the next best scorer with 14 points. Kanhai contributed figures of 11 points, four steals and as many assists and game clinchers Causway and Gullen ended the night on 10 points apiece. Phillips registered a game high 18 points in the loss while Deon Jones, Chris Crumpler and Jeron Haley supported with 17, 11 and nine points respectively.
In the earlier exchanges, the visitors took the lead when they outscored Guyana 18-16 in the opening quarter due to their superior stature and ball movement.
Exchanging buckets at 9-8, Bermuda then raced ahead in the quarter 16-11 led by a seven-point effort from centre Jones highlighted by two lay-ups and a three-point play. Crumpler also made his presence felt in the stanza, netting five points inclusive of a three-pointer.
However, the local side finished the period the stronger of the two, utilizing their up-tempo offence by fashioning a 5-2 run inspired by a lay-up each from Burnette and Randy Richardson and a free throw from Ryan Stephney.
Kanhai preceded the late charge, netting five points from a lay-up and a three-pointer while Thomas scored four points from a lay-up and mid-range jumper.
The second period would witness the hosts re-establishing their superiority, initiating a 10-6 run by constantly attacking the rim to lead 28-22 at 4:11. Guyana did not help their cause in the first half of the quarter, conceding several turnovers while forcing a few wild shots.
Jones was the early catalyst for the visitors, utilizing his superior height and size to net seven points inclusive of three lay-ups and a free throw. Similar to the first quarter, the Guyanese made a late run in the period when they outscored the Bermudians 14-9 to go into the half-time interval behind 37-36.
With the home support starting to make its presence felt, Burnett and Thomas ignited the attack and netted seven points out of the late surge. Burnette netted four points through two lay-ups while Thomas recorded a three-point dagger at 2:36, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Capping off the blitz were Causway, Gullen and Kanhai who netted two points each. Despite pulling within one of the visitors, the momentum from Guyana’s second quarter seemed to dissipate in the third period as they were outshot 20-15 to go into the final stanza behind 57-51.
It was mostly about Phillips in the third stanza as he netted eight points from two lay-ups, a jump-shot and two free throws while Geron Hayley netted support with five points inclusive of a three-pointer at 7:21 that kick-started an early 7-2 run.
Top scoring for the hosts in the period was Burnette with four points while Jermin Slater netted three points. Prior to the commencement of the main attraction, Colts defeated Eagles by a 105-81 score line in an exhibition match-up.
The second match of the series was scheduled for yesterday at the same venue while the final fixture will be hosted tomorrow at the same locale.