CUMBERLAND – With the score knotted at 62-all late in overtime, Rodney Bustillo thought the time was right to take matters into his own hand.
Bustillo blew by Cumberland’s Ben Bradley for an easy layup with exactly 10 seconds flashing on the Wellness Center scoreboard, a clutch hoop that propelled Tolman to a much-needed 64-62 win on Friday night. Bustillo’s heroic night consisted of 14 points and nine assists while Elijah Wiggins achieved double-double status yet again, the big man’s latest effort consisting of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Bradley paced Cumberland with a game-best 19 points while Matthew Lazaras chipped in with 10 points.
Out of timeouts, Cumberland was forced to wing it after Bustillo broke the tie. Bradley unleashed a running floater with less than five seconds remaining that wouldn’t stick. The Clippers then played volleyball with the backboard, forcing up two shots that created some tension on the Tigers’ bench. Neither Clipper bid was close to dropping through as Tolman’s Mike Kayata flashed a mild smile as the horn sounded.
“This one was a tough loss,” said Cumberland head coach Gary Reedy, “but we’re not out of it yet.”
It was a game that certainly tested the blood pressures of both coaches. Tolman, which came in on a two-game losing skid, jumped out to a 13-2 lead at 11:30 of the opening half behind 6-of-10 shooting. Cumberland (4-8 Division II-North) cut it to 20-14 before the visitors ended the first half on a 12-4 surge to take a 32-18 into halftime.
The Tigers, now 7-5 in Division II-Central, continued to remain in control early in the second half. A 3-point play by Bustillo put Tolman up 41-25 at the 12:11 mark, but that’s when Cumberland dug down and started to make it a ballgame. Bradley single-handily led the comeback, draining three consecutive triples – the last one a step back three at the top of the key – to cut Tolman’s cushion down to 47-41.
The Clippers’ defense also played a major hand as Reedy went man-to-man that yielded positive results. Down 48-43, Cumberland ripped off a quick seven points to take its first lead of the game, 50-48, with 5:51 remaining. The sequence was highlighted by a 3-ball from Andrew Baglini and a layup by Kyle Abbate that came off of a Tolman turnover.
Now forced to play from behind, Tolman tied the game at 52 behind a jumper from Troy Sawyer, who along with Justin Zetina found themselves in the starting lineup Friday night. Sawyer contributed seven points while Zetina scored 10 points before fouling out in OT.
The Clippers held advantages of 56-52 and 58-56 before the Tigers were finally able to draw even on a wide-open score by Zetina with 44.5 ticks left in regulation. A steal by Bustillo with 12 seconds left gave Tolman a chance to win the game in overtime, but Jeremy Graca couldn’t convert a five-foot jumper on the baseline after Bustillo broke the defense down. Cumberland grabbed the rebound and called timeout with two seconds left only to its own bid to win die at midcourt.
A 3-point play by John Andrade gave Cumberland a 62-60 lead at 2:03 of overtime. Tolman evened things behind free throws from Graca and Rems Perry, the latter coming through with 45.7 seconds left. A Cumberland turnover set the stage for Bustillo, who was ready to seize the moment according to his coach.
“We were going to go back to Jeremy (in OT), but Rodney said he got the lane,” said Kayata. “We needed this win to keep our heads above water, so that was nice.”
TOLMAN (64): Troy Sawyer 3 1-1 7, Rodney Bustillo 6 1-1 14, Rems Perry 1 1-2 3, Jeremy Graca 3 2-2 9, Justin Zetina 5 0-0 10, Elijah Wiggins 7 3-4 17, Nkosi Scott 1 0-0 3. Totals: 26 8-10 64.
CUMBERLAND (62): Ben Bradley 6 3-6 19, Andrew Baglini 1 0-0 3, Matthew Lazaras 3 2-2 10, John Andrade 2 4-6 8, Michael Joubert 2 3-5 7, Kyle Abbate 1 0-0 2, Ben Factor 2 0-0 4, Randy Walker 4 1-2 9. Totals: 21 13-21 62.
Halftime: T 32-18.
End of Regulation: 58-58.
Three-point field goals: C 7 (Ben Bradley 4, Matt Lazaras 2, Andrew Baglini); T (Rodney Bustillo, Jeremy Graca, Nkosi Scott).
JV: T 62-61.