Aaron Bruce hit two free throws with 16 seconds left and Aurelia robbed St. Mary's of its first conference win Tuesday night at the Panther Pit, overcoming a 10-point deficit with just 3 minutes left in a 40-38 victory over the Panthers.
St. Mary's led by 15 points with 10 minutes to go.
Panther freshman Connor Richardson got two close-range shots off in the closing seconds but they both rimmed out.
"We played very well through three quarters and took a 31-18 lead into the fourth quarter. Aurelia upped their intensity and we began turning the ball over," said Panthers coach Brad Wilkening. "We refused to attack the basket on offense and Aurelia started hitting the offensive boards."
Ryan Drey led St. Mary's with 11 points; he made 3-of-6 3-pointers with two assists and four steals.
Jon Foell charted seven points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Brendan Smith and Richardson both chipped in five rebounds.
The Bulldogs had a balanced attack, with Camrin Meyer and Aaron Bruce scoring 11 apiece to lead the way. All of Bruce's points came at the free throw line.
Greg Kolpin added eight points and Jordan Glawe pulled down 10 rebounds.
Aaron Bruce added seven rebounds, Meyer five rebounds and Jared Bruce four steals.
"It was not a pretty game at all. We struggled running offense and couldn't throw a beach ball into the ocean while in a boat at sea," quipped Bulldogs coach Grant Peckenschneider. "But we didn't give up and played with a lot of hustle and determination and fought our way back into it at the end.
"Greg hit a big 3, Jared had some big steals and Aaron was 9-for-10 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Our execution was poor for 29 minutes, but the last 3 minutes we pressed and trapped great and forced some turnovers."
The Bulldogs were 12-for-16 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone. St. Mary's was just 12-for-39 from the floor.
Said Wilkening, "We let this one get away. It was ours - we just have to learn how to finish."
St. Mary's (2-16, 0-12 NWC) has its homecoming game tomorrow against 1A top-ranked Alta.
Score by Quarters
Aurelia 6 10 2 22 - 40
SLSM 13 9 9 7 - 38
ST. MARY'S - Brendan Smith 2-5 1-2 5, Paul Yak 0-2 2-2 2, Jon Foell 3-9 1-3 7, Alec Kestel 1-2 0-0 3, Evan Smith 2-4 0-2 4, Justin Cullen 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Richardson 1-6 4-6 6, Ryan Drey 3-10 2-3 11. Totals 12-39 10-18 38.
3-Point Goals (4-9) - Kestel 1-2, Richardson 0-1, Drey 3-6
AURELIA - Greg Kolpin 3-6 2-5 8, Jared Bruce 2-8 1-2 6, Camrin Meyer 4-8 1-2 11, Mason Sangwin 0-3 1-2 1, Anthony Fowler 0-2 0-0 0, Aaron Bruce 0-12 11-14 11, Jordan Glawe 1-3 1-3 3. Totals 10-42 15-23 40.
3-Point Goals (5-15) - Kolpin 2-5, J Bruce 1-3, Meyer 2-3, Sangwin 0-2, Fowler 0-1, A Bruce 0-1