Alex Longi's put-back beat the buzzer and sent the Big Red to a 71-69 win over Puget Sound from the Pacific Lutheran Thanksgiving Classic in Tacoma, Wash.
After a 0-3 start to the season, Denison made the 2,474 mile cross country flight from Granville in search of its first win of the season, and things looked promising early. DU led by as many as 12 in the first half while shooting 41 percent in the period. They would take a 38-32 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Denison would maintain a decent lead for much of the period. The Loggers made its run with five minutes to play when Dan Cheledinas drilled a 3-pointer from the corner, trimming the DU advantage to just two.
After an offensive foul, Rex Nelson tied the game at 62-62 with 4:39 to play. An offensive rebound wound up leading Denison directly to the victory and they were a key part of Denison's success down the stretch. None were bigger than the two consecutive offensive boards on DU's ensuing possession after the Nelson field goal. After a Darius White miss from beyond the arc, Robby Weingart tracked down the long rebound and gave it back to White who cashed in his second chance to put DU back on top by three.
Leading 67-66 with less than one minute to play, Puget Sound's Nick Holden was fouled by Denison's Brad Woolard. The whistle would send Woolard to the bench with his fifth foul after an 11 point, eight rebound performance. Holden cashed in the pressure-packed free throws to give his team its first lead since the opening seconds of the contest at 68-67.
After a time out by the Loggers, Denison went to work at the other end and with 20 seconds left, Longi backed his opponent down in the post, pump faked, and scored to put the Big Red on top once again.
Puget Sound wasted no time getting back on offense and Holden would go to the line after a foul in the post with 14 second left. After connecting on the first charity toss to tie the game at 69-69, it appeared as if Holden gave his team a one point lead after his second free throw bounced off the back of the rim and went through. However, a whistle sounded before the ball came off the iron. The officials conferred and determined that Holden entered the lane too early, negating the second free throw.
With 14 second left, DU inbounded the ball to David Meurer who tried to go coast-to-coast on the Loggers. At the basket, he was met by Holden who blocked Meurer's attempt at a game-winner. The rebound was tied up and the possession arrow was in favor of the Big Red.
Denison's next game winning attempt would come from White from the left elbow. His 3-point attempt with three seconds remaining was off the mark but Longi was there for the offensive rebound and the heads-up stick back that just beat the buzzer, sending his teammates on to the court in celebration.
White led Denison with 15 points. He was 5-of-16 on the day with all 16 shots coming from beyond the arc. Longi logged a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Meurer ended with 10 points, six assists and three steals in 36 minutes. Weingart came off the bench to add 10 points.
Nelson led the Loggers with 19 points.
Denison (1-3) connected on 23 of 63 field goal attempts and was 17 of 20 from the free throw line. Puget Sound (2-4) was 23 of 60 from the field and was 20 of 26 at the line.
The Big Red will close out its trip out west on Saturday when they take on tournament host, Pacific Lutheran at 7 p.m. EST.