Hester’s buzzer-beater sinks Andrew

Zach Settembre gives his team instructions during a timeout on Monday
Zach Settembre gives his team instructions during a timeout on Monday

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (November 11, 2019) – Eric Hester sank a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to give NJCAA No. 8/Region 8 No. 3 Tallahassee Community College a thrilling 73-70 win over Andrew (Ga.) College on Monday evening inside the Bill Hebrock Eagledome. 

Tallahassee improved to 4-0 on the young season while Andrew, who received votes in Monday's NJCAA poll, fell to 2-1. 

Hester's game-winner capped a wild final ten minutes that saw seven ties and 12 lead changes. It also followed Andrew's own shot at regaining the lead when Jordan Booker missed a pair free throws with 27 seconds remaining in a 70-70 game. 

Booker finished with 18 points to lead Andrew and had hit his first four free throws on the night but after misfiring on the first of two shots, Tallahassee head coach Zach Settembre used his final timeout to draw up the Eagles' final play – and put some added pressure on Booker. The strategy worked, as Booker missed the second attempt as well, leaving the game knotted up. 

Six-foot-nine Jordan Guest, who Settembre inserted into the lineup during the timeout, grabbed his 11th rebound on Booker's second miss and got the ball into the hands of Hester, who never relinquished possession. With about 10 seconds left, he worked his way to the left wing, picked up a screen from Rifen Miguel and hit a step back three that fell through the net as time expired.

"Coach drew up a play, I got into one of my favorite pullup spots and I was able to hit it," said Hester, who said it was his first game-winner since high school. 

He finished with 10 points, one of three players in double-figures for Tallahassee.

Kailex Stephens led all scorers with 22, and Miguel added 10. 

The teams played to a 21-all tie through 11 minutes before Tallahassee found some breathing room. Thirteen unanswered points, capped by a basket by Hester, gave the Eagles a 34-21 lead at the 5:55 mark. They eventually led 44-28 with two minutes until the half but failed to score on their final three possessions. Andrew took advantage, closing on a 9-0 run and trailed just 44-37 at the break. 

The Fighting Tigers carried that momentum into the second half, extending to a 17-0 run that yielded a 45-44 lead with 16:31 left in the game. DeAndre Gholston finally ended the six-plus minute scoring drought for the Eagles with a basket at 15:38. 

Tallahassee seemed to have regained control of the game, leading 52-46 with just over 12 minutes remaining but allowed a second-chance opportunity following a pair of missed free throws that ignited a 6-0 spurt to tie the game at 52 with 9:56 left. 

Andrew eventually completed a 14-4 run for a 60-56 lead – the largest for either team in the final ten minutes – at the 6:22 mark. That was quickly answered by five straight points – a clutch three from Stephens and a driving basket from Yahel Hill – to put the Eagles back in front as part of the back-and-forth ending. 

Most numbers across the stat sheet favored the home team, including a +17 (53-36) in the rebounding column, however, 29 turnovers resulted in 19 points for Andrew, who was looking for its first-ever win against Tallahassee. 

The Eagles will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Monroeville, Ala., for an 8 p.m. eastern game at Coastal Alabama Community College-North.