GW's Luke Eddy goes up for a shot against Nitro's Hunter Ferrari.
NITRO, W.Va. -- Nitro seemed intent on finally picking up a signature win. But you can never write off George Washington's Luke Eddy.
Eddy dropped in 36 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 18 seconds left, and the state-ranked Patriots made one final defensive stand Friday night to avert an upset with a 68-64 victory at Nitro.
Nitro (7-11), which lost its fifth straight, led for about 31/2 quarters until Eddy, GW's all-state guard, began getting to the foul line with regularity down the stretch. He made all eight of his free throws in the final quarter and was 14 of 15 for the game.
His pull-up bank shot with 1:29 left gave the Patriots the lead for good at 64-62. Nitro cut it back to 65-64 on Angelo Sirianni's floater in the lane with 36 seconds remaining.
Nitro then nearly forced a 10-second backcourt call, but GW coach Rick Greene called timeouts at the 30- and 20-second marks, and the Wildcats were forced to foul Eddy on the next possession. He was true with both tosses to make it 67-64, and Nitro called its final timeout with 14 seconds left to set up a possible tying 3-pointer.
The Wildcats got the ball to Ethan Clark for a good look at the top of the key, but his shot kicked off the back of the rim and out. Nitro's players and coaches felt a foul should have been whistled on GW's Dominik King for some contact with Clark, no but no call was forthcoming.
The Patriots' Austin Breeden hit 1 of 2 at the line to essentially seal it with five seconds to go.
Nitro was looking for its first victory of the season against a team with a winning record, and it nearly knocked off the Patriots (14-4), the No. 10 team in Class AAA.
"I think they really played well and they shot well,'' Greene said of the Wildcats. "They shoot so many 3s that when they're hitting them, they can stay in it with anybody - not just us.
"So credit to them. I thought they were more patient offensively than I've seen them at times, and they got some really, really good looks. They shot well and they gave us a lot of trouble on the boards.''
Sirianni, like Eddy a potential all-conference and all-state guard, played a solid game, donating 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Clark also shot well, hitting 7 of 9 attempts and scoring 20 points, one off his career high. He hoisted four 3s, and his only miss was the final one. He also had six rebounds, matching teammate Tyler Barton.
King complemented Eddy's play by netting 17 points, including a 3-of-5 effort on 3s. Breeden grabbed nine rebounds to pace GW to a 32-30 edge off the boards.
Nitro held leads as large as eight points in the first half and was up 35-30 at the break. The Wildcats held advantages as high as five points in the second half before GW started to catch up at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats are in the midst of playing three games on consecutive days because of previous postponements. They lost at Spring Valley 56-49 on Thursday and host No. 1 South Charleston tonight.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.