OXFORD - As the snow melted from Sunday's wintry wonderland, so did the opportunity of a heroic late comeback for the Oxford men's basketball team.
In the end, the Eagles fell to a solid Central Carolina squad, 76-64.
"In spurts we played very well," said Oxford coach Roderick Stubbs after the tough loss. "When it came time to make the big plays we didn't, and we were unable to cut into their lead."
After trailing by as many as 15 points, the Eagles were able to rally back, cutting the Central Carolina lead to five. But with nine minutes left on the clock, the Cougars proved to have too much offense, as they took complete control en route to the victory.
The Cougars came out red hot in the first half, shooting 73 percent from beyond the arc, going 8-of-11 from three-point range.
Led by guard Kyle McCarthy, who was a perfect 4-of-4 from downtown, Central Carolina was able to grab an early 38-29 halftime lead.
As the second half got underway, the Eagles took away the perimeter shooting of the Cougars, forcing them to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. And with tough defense enforced by Stubbs, the offense was supplied by Oxford's Jacob Gise.
Gise, who scored a team-high 21 points, led the comeback for the Eagles. In addition, Michael Chang deposited 17 points to help their cause.
Cutting the Cougars lead to six with 11 minutes and then to five with nine minutes remaining, it looked as if the Eagles were on their way to a thrilling ending.
But like the snow, all good things had to come to an end for the Eagles.
Without committing careless mistakes and converting on all of their late free-throw attempts, the Cougars were able to take a victory back home to North Carolina.
Central Carolina was led by Tim Jones and his game-high 22 points.
Oxford All-American Chad Hixon and Mathew O' Connor each contributed eight points in the losing effort.