The TFC Eagles hosted the Pensacola Christian College Eagles in a crucial region showdown on Thursday night. Toccoa Falls had previously won three of their last four games; all of which have come in region play. Both Toccoa Falls and Pensacola were defeated by Trinity Baptist College in their most recent games. TFC fell victim to Trinity Baptist 66-61 (OT) on Saturday, while Trinity topped Pensacola 75-64 on Tuesday. In Thursday’s action, TFC jumped to a first half that grew as large as 20 points, but needed an overtime period to finally prevail over the pesky visitors, 98-92.
Jon Sauls and the Eagles jumped to an early 16-7 lead just 5 minutes into the first half. TFC continued its hot shooting throughout the first 15 minutes of gameplay, and built a lead that swelled to 36-17 when Sauls drained back to back three pointers. Trailing 45-25 with 3:15 left in the first half, Pensacola scored 8 consecutive points in less than a minute’s time to cut TFC’s lead to 45-32. TFC was forced to call a timeout, and slowed Pensacola’s momentum to take a 47-32 lead into the half.
In the half, Sauls led all scorers with 17 points. Josh Barrett added 13 points in the first period. As a team, TFC converted 52% of its field goal attempts, including 8-15 from behind the arc. Conversely, PCC shot 63% in the first half when attempting a two-point field goal, but were just 1-12 from distance.
Following the restart, Pensacola carried its scoring frenzy into the new half and quickly shrunk TFC’s advantage to 54-48. After struggling from three point range in the first half, PCC stroked the three ball at a 9-18 clip in the second half. TFC continued to execute its offense as well, but could not slow down Pensacola’s offensive explosion. TFC saw its lead dwindled to 76-74 with three minutes left to play.
Despite untimely turnovers down the stretch, TFC held an 82-78 lead with 53 seconds left in the game. TFC was unable to put the game away from the free throw line, but held an 83-80 lead with 5 seconds left on the clock. Pensacola ran a sideline out of bounds play and found Joel Thomas in the corner. Thomas took a dribble to his right, and buried a three pointer despite tight defensive pressure. Thomas’ three tied the game for the first time and sent it to overtime, tied at 83-83.
In overtime, Pensacola took an 85-83 lead; its first lead of the game. Donovan Smith and the Eagles defense tighten and forced Pensacola into shooting 2-10 in overtime. After failing to ice the game from the free throw line in the second half, TFC shot 11-14 from the line in OT, including clutch free throws from Josh Barrett and Smith in the final minute. TFC’s constricting defense and clutch free throw shooting propelled the Eagles to the 98-92 win.
Josh Barrett scored a team high 22 points and shot 11-13 from the line. Barrett also recorded 6 assists. Jon Sauls finished the game 6-12 from deep for 21 points. Derek Westfall added 21 points in the game, 13 of which came in the second half and overtime period. Cam Williams led the Eagles in rebounding with 9 boards and added 14 points. Pensacola’s Joel Thomas scored a game high 30 points and was 4-7 from three point range.
TFC has now won four of its last five games, and own a 4-2 region record. TFC will travel to Piedmont International University on Saturday. The Eagles defeated PIU 90-50 in December. TFC will host Emmanuel College and Berry College on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Both games will begin at 7:00 PM.