NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Breven Lyons has quietly bided his time waiting for his opportunity to shine as a member of the Virginia Wesleyan College men's basketball team.
As a point guard, he's had to wait his turn to gain valuable minutes on the court, playing in the shadow of a number of standout point guards who have preceded him in a highly successful program.
On Sunday the waiting ended for Lyons, a 5-foot-6 senior from Newport News. He took the spotlight not once, but twice in helping No. 11 Virginia Wesleyan to a thrilling 84-83 overtime victory at Christopher Newport University in the annual Hampton Roads showdown.
Lyons (Newport News/Warwick) grabbed an offensive rebound following a missed shot by Greg Montgomery (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne)and put the ball back up and in for a score with six seconds remaining to provide the Marlins with the eventual winning score in OT.
If that wasn't enough, Lyons also sent the game into overtime when he drilled through a triple with six seconds remaining in regulation time to create a 79-all tie at CNU's Freeman Center.
It was all part of an 11-point production for Lyons, who scored seven second-half points en route to recording his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season.
"He was definitely our spark," said VWC head coach Dave Macedo. "He did what seniors should do. No one earned this more than Brev."
Lyons' heroics helped the Marlins to avenge last year's 83-80 overtime loss to CNU at the beach, marking the Captains first win in 12 years in the long series between the long-time rivals. Sunday's victory improved VWC's current record to 7-1, while Christopher Newport lost at home for the first time in three games this season and dropped to 5-2 overall.
While Lyons' big baskets helped VWC to secure the win, his contributions were just part of an unwavering effort by the Marlins that was keyed by the leadership of senior Cam Owens (Centreville/Centreville)and Montgomery. Both Marlins pumped in career-high totals, led by Montgomery with 27 points, driving inside for scores or drawing fouls that he converted into a game-leading 13-of-19 showing from the free throw lines. Owens added 22 points, hitting 6-of-9 shots overall, including a career-best 5-of-5 from three-point range.
"Greg, Breven and Cam were our workhorses the entire game," said Macedo. "We won because of their leadership. All three players produced key scores for us. This was one of those nights when we had to grind it out and we found a way to win."
It was a tight battle from the start, despite a couple early seven point leads for the Captains. CNU led 14-7 with 12:59 on the clock in the first half and then trailed 18-14 at the 10:05 mark, thanks mainly to Owens who drilled home three triples in the span to move the Marlins in front. But, the host team regained the lead on a three-pointer by Aaron McFarland (Richmond/Massaponax) seconds later and used another triple from Rayshard Brown (Norfolk/Portsmouth Christian) to snap a 31-all tie and take a 34-31 lead into halftime.
Intensity increased during second half play as the neither team led by more than five points. There were three ties and six lead changes. While senior Mike Cherry (Lewiston, N.C./Bertie) and Hunter Wetherell (Orange Park, Fla./Riverview) picked up the scoring pace for CNU, which also benefitted from timely triples from Marcel Simon (Heidelberg, Germany/Heidelberg) and Justin Hampton (Lorton, Va./South County), Kaelin Poe (Hampton/Kecoughtan) and Tim Jones (Richmond/Henrico) factored into VWC scoring.
Carter scored on a layup to give CNU a 73-72 lead with 1:43 remaining in regulation play and went on to open up a 77-73 lead with 32 seconds on the clock. But, VWC senior Brandon Mitchell (Albany, Ga./Westover) closed the gap with a triple with 27 seconds showing. Wetherell answered seconds later with a layup to make it 79-76 CNU, but as the final seconds ticked away Lyons fired in his triple that made it a 79-all score and sent the game into overtime.
The Marlins and Captains traded the lead in overtime, with CNU taking its final advantage at 83-82 on a Cherry layup with 44 seconds remaining. The host team had the chance to pad its lead at the free throw line on a foul following a VWC turnover, but the Captains could not score on either end of a two-shot opportunity. That opened the door for VWC, which rebounded the ball and got it down court to Montgomery for a shot that missed with 10 seconds on the clock. Brevens rebounded the ball and got it back up and in for the game-winning score.
Virginia Wesleyan helped itself by hitting 10-of-18 three-pointers, led by Owens' five and one each from five other Marlins. CNU hit 8-of-22 triple attempts, led by Cherry with two. Cherry led the Captains with 24 points, hitting 8-of-13 field goals and all six free throws he attempted. Wetherell added 13 points and shared the team rebounding lead with Carter, each with nine.
Montgomery recorded his fourth double-double of the season, and fifth overall, pulling own a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his game-high 27 points. He also shared a team-high three assists with Lyons. Cherry finished with five assists for CNU.
Virginia Wesleyan returns to competition on Wednesday, Dec. 17, hosting the University of Mary Washington at 6 p.m. at the Jane P. Batten Student Center. It is a rematch of last year's NCAA Division III regional tournament game at UMW. Admission will be free as it will be "Community Appreciation Night" at VWC.