TRENTON, N.J. -- Luol Deng (right) converted a big three point play, blocked a shot and hit a four free throws in the final minute to lead Blair Academy to a hard fought 67-64 victory over Mt. Zion on Sunday afternoon at the Prime Time Shootout.
Deng, the outstanding 6-7 swingman headed to Duke University next fall, finished with 28 points and earned game MVP honors.
His three point play with a minute remaining gave the Bucs a 62-61 lead. Following an empty Mt. Zion possession and one of two free throws from Charlie Villanueva (Illinois), Deng made the defensive play of the game.
The Warriors' Tasheed Carr, who had victimized the Buccaneer guards throughout the afternoon to the tune of 15 points, drove to the basket, only to be met squarely by Deng who swatted away the shot.
With 16.2 seconds left, Mt. Zion's Glen Dandridge fouled Deng, who calmly sank a pair to push the lead to 65-61.
The Warriors Albert Weber kept things interesting by knocking down a three pointer with :10 remaining to shave the deficit to a point.
Mt. Zion once again fouled Deng with 7.9 seconds to play, and he sank another pair to increase the lead to 67-64.
It was still a one possession game, but Dandridge missed a three at the buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime.
It was a gutsy win by Blair, who came out sluggish and trailed 22-11 late in the first quarter. Thanks to eight second quarter points from Deng, the Bucs rallied and used a 16-6 run in that period to forge a 32-28 half-time advantage.
Still, the Bucs appeared to be on life support in the game's waning moments. Mt/ Zion led 61-56 with 1:38 to play following a basket by improving 6-9 power forward/center Mohamed Tangara.
Charlie Villanueva, who finished with 19 points, fanned a quick 7-0 run with a baseline jumper and free throw at the 1:21 mark.
On Mt. Zion's ensuing possession, Tangara couldn't handle an in-bound pass, turning the ball right back over to Blair. That's when Deng matched Villanueva by converting a three point play of his own. Villanueva then hit one of two free throws, following a missed shot by the Warriors' Carr, to give the Bucs the 63-61 lead.
Mike Beers (Siena) hit a trio of three pointers in the first half and finished with nine points for Blair. His threes helped the Bucs to stay in the game while their offense struggled to get untracked.
Weber, who knocked down five three pointers in the game, led Mt. Zion with 21 points. Tangara added 14 points.