ROME, GA - Nathan Thomas scored a game-high 24 points to lead Auburn University at Montgomery to a 62-59 win over Shorter College in the opening round of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament.
A three-point field goal from Johnny Williams with two minutes left gave the Senators a 59-52 lead, but Shorter made a run to cut the lead to 59-57 with only 23 seconds left. Williams then made two free throws to push the lead back out to four, but Shorter cut the lead to 61-59 when Jerrenda Wheeler made a basket with 16 seconds left.
Wheeler then stole the ball with 11 seconds left and Shorter was in position to either win the game or send it into overtime, but Thomas came through with a big steal with four seconds left. He then connected on one free throw forcing Shorter to throw up a long shot at the horn which missed, sending the Senators into the second round.
The Senators led 27-25 at halftime led by Thomas' 13 points. AUM's defense was strong, holding Shorter scoreless for almost six minutes as AUM turned a 23-18 deficit into a 27-23 lead. The lead could have been even more, but AUM struggled at the free throw line connecting on only four of their 12 first half attempts.
Williams finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while LaNorris Smith scored 13 points. Stephen Jordan had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Wheeler finished the game with 15 points for Shorter while Ziyadah Carter and Montagious Brown both scored 10 points for Shorter.
AUM moves to 14-12 overall while Shorter ends its season at 17-13. The Senators will play the winner of the Southern Polytechnic-Southern Wesleyan game tomorrow at 4 p.m.