CHARLOTTE -- Campbell's Jordan Whitfield logged just one assist in Wednesday's Big South first-round game. That was enough of a surprise.
The fact that the helper went to forward Milos Stajcic -- who not only made one fewer three-pointer on the night than he had all year entering the game, but was also only on the floor because forward Jesus Carralero had fouled out a bit earlier -- made it all the more noteworthy.
Stajcic caught the pass, squared toward the basket, and calmly splashed the three while drawing a foul. That shot -- and the ensuing free throw -- allowed Campbell to finally put away a persistent Presbyterian club who refused to quit, even after top scorer Rayshon Harrison left the game with a foot injury. The Camels took home a 75-72, double-overtime decision on the strength of Stajcic's heroics.
So, just how many times has Whitfield ever found Stajcic for a game-winner, one might wonder?
"I would have to say that would be the first," Whitfield said with a laugh after the game. "I wouldn't want it any other way. That was an amazing shot by an amazing player. I'm just happy for him and happy for this team.
"It was a high ball screen. We had Milos slip out, and I was just trying to get to the basket and get a quick two," Whitfield continued. "They cut me off, and I just heard Milos screaming in my ear. I just pivoted and turned, and he hit the big shot."
Anyone who watched the first half of the contest could never have anticipated it would have come down to that shot. Campbell trailed, 7-6, before an 8-0 run quickly flipped the trajectory of the period. After Presbyterian countered with a quick 6-0 burst to cut the lead to a point, Campbell (17-12) closed the half on a 17-6 sprint that afforded the Camels a 31-19 margin at the interval.
"The biggest thing (in the first half) was that defensively, we weren't getting after them enough. We were probably giving them too much respect in terms of the offense that the run, because they back cut you so much that sometimes it can make your defenders a little bit timid," said Presbyterian coach Quinton Ferrell. "I just challenged us to get after them a little bit more on the defensive end. We needed to speed up the tempo a little bit and make them move a little bit faster.
"On offense, I really challenged them -- because we had 19 points -- to be more aggressive, play with more force, and play faster. They did a nice job of responding, I thought, in the second half."
Presbyterian (12-20) battled to get the differential inside double digits for the first six minutes of the second half, but eventually answered their coach's challenge. The Blue Hose clawed back and used a 12-3 run to regain the lead at 45-44 on a Marquis Barnett triple. Presbyterian held a one-possession lead for much of the final two segments of regulation, though the sides did draw the game level on five occasions. Jesus Carralero logged the most important of these ties, knocking down a pair of two free throws with 42 seconds remaining that would eventually send the game to the first overtime.
The Blue Hose seized control of the first extra period, starting with a Barnett bucket 26 seconds into the period. The 11th-seeded club held the advantage until just one perilous second remained in the period, when Whitfield put home a runner to send the sixth-seeded Camels into another bonus period.
Neither side could establish a lead greater than three points in the second overtime period. The lead changed hands three times in the period, accompanied by a pair of ties. After Barnett converted on a layup with 13 seconds to play to put Presbyterian ahead by a point, the Camels finally polished off persistent Presbyterian on the Stajcic triple and bonus shot.
"What can you say? That was awesome, exciting -- just an absolute war," said Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan. "That team is really, really tough that we just played against. To be truthful, it's a shame that anybody had to lose that game, because everybody was fighting so darn hard to try to figure out a way to win.
"It seemed like there were six different ways the game could have ended in us losing, and we found a way to win at the end. I give a lot of credit to my guys, because we executed a few things really well down the stretch that gave us an opportunity. Jordan made the right play at the end."
Five Camels finished the contest in double figures. Whitfield finished 7-for-16 from the floor to tally 16. Cedric Henderson recorded 15 and hauled in five boards. Carralero finished two dimes shy of a triple-double, logging 14 points and 10 caroms. Stajcic booked 11, with Austin McCullough contributing 10. The Camels shot 44.4 percent (24-for-54), despite making just 31.8 percent of their triples (7-for-22). Campbell also knocked down 66.7 percent (20-for-30) of its free throw attempts.
Presbyterian placed four scorers in doubles. Winston Hill finished a board shy of a double-double while pouring in 20 points to pace Presbyterian. Harrison put home 18, with Barnett scoring 17. Trevon Reddish-Rhone added 12 points and seven boards. The Blue Hose shot 38.8 percent (25-for-67), along with 29.6 percent (8-for-27) from distance. PC hit just 52.2 percent (12-for-23) of its tries from the charity stripe.
Campbell will next do battle with third-seeded Gardner-Webb Friday night in the tournament quarterfinals. The game is slated to tip off at approximately 8:30.