Illinois tops Gardner-Webb by slimmest of margins

Illini win with 3-pointer with six seconds remaining
Illinois tops Gardner-Webb by slimmest of margins

Illinois 63, Gardner-Webb 62: Tyler Griffey drained a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining and the host Fighting Illini survived a battle from the Runnin’ Bulldogs in a game that saw four lead changes in the final minute of regulation.

Illinois (7-0) was clinging to a 58-56 lead when Kevin Hartley nailed a 3-pointer to give Gardner-Webb (4-4) the advantage with 57 seconds remaining. Brandon Paul, who had 13 points, put the hosts ahead 60-59 when he connected on a jumper with 43 seconds left.

Tashan Newsome, who had made only three 3-pointers all season, hit one with 16 seconds left to give Gardner-Webb a 62-60 advantage. Illinois called a timeout with 11 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Griffey’s heroics.

Newsome, who finished with 11 points, missed a long 3 just before the final buzzer. Joseph Bertrand and D.J. Richardson had 13 points apiece for Illinois.

Donta Harper scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs and Max Landis chipped in 10 as Gardner-Webb just came up short of its second win in the state of Illinois in two weeks. The Runnin’ Bulldogs upset DePaul 71-59 on Nov. 15.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Illinois, which came into the game leading the nation in 3-point field goals (11.5), made a season-low seven. … The Fighting Illini also had their streak snapped of consecutive games scoring at least 75 points. … Gardner-Webb coach Chris Holtmann played college basketball with Illinois coach John Groce at Taylor University and was a part of Groce’s staff at Ohio from 2008-10.