Skidmore survives to win longest game ever

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John Mantas
John Mantas played a mere 59 minutes but scored a team-high 27 points for Skidmore on 8-for-20 shooting.
Skidmore athletics file photo by Bob Ewell

Skidmore outlasted Southern Vermont 128-123 late Tuesday night in the longest game in Division III history. The game took seven overtimes to complete, shattering the record of five overtimes held by several games.

Six players scored in double figures for Skidmore, but the two-man show for Southern Vermont nearly stole the show. Lance Spratling played all 75 minutes and scored 31 points (although he shot 10-for-40 from the floor, 0-for-13 from three-point range), while teammate Taeshon Johnson added 39 points in 69 minutes.

Skidmore (2-1) was led by John Mantas, who scored 27 points, while Gerard O'Shea added 20. Four players fouled out for each side.

"Words are hard to describe what I just witnessed," Skidmore coach Joe Burke said in a school release. "It was completely a battle of wills and both teams refused to give in. We won the game but really there are no losers in a game like that. Both teams played till complete exhaustion.

"I kept telling the guys as each overtime passed to really enjoy the moment. They will never be involved in anything like that in their lives again. I kept telling them, 'this is fun isn't it?' But by the sixth overtime I think that wore out."

"It's difficult to reconcile your emotions when you have just participated in such an epic event and lost," said Southern Vermont coach Mike McDonough. "But to a man, both teams will take a way something from tonight that they will never forget."

The NCAA record book only lists a handful of five-overtime games, but is aware of at least three others, the most recent being Salisbury's 126-122 Valentine's Night epic against Marymount in 2007. In addition, SUNY-Maritime and Massachusetts College went to five overtimes on Nov. 28, 2006 and Fisk and Rust went five over in 2000.

Langyintuo sent the game into a second overtime with a free throw with one second left in the first extra session. Southern Vermont tied the game late in the second overtime to force a third. In the third OT it was Jeff Altimar to the rescue with a jumper with 10 seconds left to tie the game and send it to OT No. 4.

Victoria was the hero of the fourth OT with a field goal with two seconds left to send the game into the fifth extra session. Nobody scored in the final 1:12 of the fifth overtime with both teams missing chances to win it.

Southern Vermont led the entire sixth OT, until Eli Johnson hit a three-pointer, his only points of the game, with 10 seconds to play to send the game into the seventh and final OT.

Skidmore rattled off 16 points in the final stanza for the five point win.

"I am so proud of the effort and toughness of every guy on the team, there were so many times that we could have packed it in but didn't," Burke added. "Guys stepped up all over the place -- it was something extraordinary."

Team 1 2 OT 2OT 3OT 4OT 5OT 6OT 7OT Total
Skidmore 32 27 8 8 9 8 8 12 16 128
Southern Vermont 25 34 8 8 9 8 8 12 11 123

Box score (other than the line score, which appears above)