Charlotte, N.C.- The Queens Royals played a post-season style game against a perennially pesky opponent Saturday night, hanging on to defeat the Coker Cobras 62-59 at Ovens Gym.
Senior guard Darnell Evans scored a game-high 20 points, including a pair of game-clinching free throws with 4.5 seconds to play, to lead the Royals (18-7, 13-5 Conference Carolinas) to their fourth straight victory. To get there, they had to survive a Coker comeback that nearly erased a nine-point Queens lead in the final 4 1/2 minutes.
"It was a tough win for our guys," Queens coach Brian Good said. "They (Coker) have some good shooters, and they hit shots. We just had to dig in and grind it out."
With accurate shooting from three-point range (10-of-23), the Cobras (9-17, 7-12) challenged Queens from start to finish.
The Royals seemed ready to put the game away after Andre Lockhart gave Queens a 55-46 lead on a conventional three-point play with 4:30 left to play. But Coker trimmed the lead to 60-59 on a 3-pointer by Ryan Fulwood with 6.4 seconds left. Fulwood was the Cobras' leading scorer with 12 points, on four 3-pointers.
Evans' two free throws pushed the lead to three, and Coker couldn't get a shot off before time ran out.
"We expected a tournament-type game from them," Good said. "They're patient and play a game of long possessions, so we had to be disciplined. They'll be a tough out for somebody in the tournament."
Coker led for most of the game's first 10 minutes, before Lamont King's three-point play put the Royals in front to stay at 17-16. Queens extended its lead to eight points (31-23) before 3-pointers by Fulwood and Vatrick Thompson trimmed the lead to 31-29 at halftime.
Evans and senior guard Akeem Misdeen were honored before the game, which was their last regular season home game. The Royals finish the regular season with two road games, at Erskine on Tuesday and Anderson on Friday.