ROME, Ga. – The Brevard men's basketball put together an 8-2 run over the final 4:44 of the contest, but it was a series of free throws by Nick Marder and McCarty Forte that helped Berry escape with a 69-67 victory on Saturday evening.
Trailing by a 10-point margin following a free throw by Berry's Quinn Atkinson, the Tornados' Levi Lamb found Shelby Parris for a layup. Lamb added a free throw and teammate Divese Carson put back the second free throw attempt to kick start the Brevard offense.
Brevard's defense turned up the pressure, forcing a missed jumper by Cory Johnson, and Carson answered with a timely 3-pointer to cut the Berry lead to two, 66-64. The two teams were separated by one bucket for the next 2:44 of the contest when Marder drew a Carson foul. The senior drained both free throws, stretching the lead to four, before Stevie Williams converted the second of two free throws to make for a 68-65 contest.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, Forte drew a foul from Markese Lynch and hit his second free throw attempt. Brevard put its final two points on the board with a dunk by Levi Lamb, making for the two-point final.
Carson made quite an impression in his collegiate debut, scoring a game-high 18 points after hitting 7-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He also climbed the glass for a team-high six rebounds, pulling down two on defense. He led the way for a Brevard offense that finished 24-of-55 (43.6%) from the floor and 8-of-21 (38.1%) from 3-point range.
Joining Carson in double figures for the Tornados was Shelby Parris (13 points) and Stevie Williams (10). Parris finished 5-of-8 from the field and Williams overcame a tough 4-of-14 shooting performance by contributing two blocks and two steals. Williams also got his teammates involved in the offense as he and Lamb each handed out four assists.
Berry struggled on offense, hitting 22-of-59 (37.3%) from the field, but managed to take advantage of 21-of-34 (61.8%) shooting at the charity stripe. Four Vikings reached double figure scoring including Elijah Hirsh (17 points), Caleb Johnson (12), Cory Johnson (10) and Marder (10).
Hirsh led the way for Berry by knocking down 6-of-12 field goals and five free throws while grabbing six rebounds and forcing two steals. Cory Johnson and Marder converted four field goals each, while Alton McCloud shared the team-high in rebounds (six) with Hirsh.
With a five-point edge heading into the second half, Berry quickly extended the lead to a game-high 17, 50-33, behind six points from McCloud and four points each by Hirsh and Caleb Johnson. Carson answered with a 3-pointer and followed with a layup and a free throw to cut the lead to 50-39 at the 14:05 mark.
A pair of free throws by Caleb Johnson was not enough to derail Carson's offensive attack as the freshman added a 3-pointer and a jumper to account for 11 straight Brevard points as the two teams were separated by eight points. Markese Lunch narrowed the deficit to six, 54-48, before eight unanswered points by the Vikings put the lead back to double digits.
Ethan Clark converted a three-point play, which included a layup and a free throw, and provided Berry with a 10-6 edge at the 15:35 mark. Brevard used a pair of 3-pointers from Lamb and Parris to score nine of the next 14 points and pull even at 15.
Cannon Lamb gave the Tornados their second lead of the game with a 3-pointer at the 11:07 mark and jumper by Demari Hopper extended the margin to five. Berry came right back with an 9-4 run of its own, bringing the game to a 24-all deadlock. The combination of Caleb Johnson, Cory Johnson and Hirsh resulted in six unanswered points for the Vikings who took a 31-24 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.
Brevard's Ke'Vel Kingsberry scored four of the final six points of the frame to cut the Vikings' lead to five at the intermission.
Brevard returns to the court on Tuesday, Nov. 21, when they head to Gardner-Webb for an exhibition contest at 4:30 p.m.