Missouri Southern Lions lost an overtime heartbreaker to Ft. Hays 86-85 Friday in the quarterfinal of the MIAA Conference Tournament in Kansas City.
The game started off competitively with 10 lead changes in the first half. The Lions were able to pull ahead with a halftime buzzer-beater by senior, CJ Carr to put the Lions up 34-30. It seemed the Lions were primed to take the win.
At the half, the Lions were led by Carr with 10 points and out-rebounded the Tigers 26-13. But they only shot two of 11 from beyond the arc. The Tigers outshot the Lions by nearly 6 percent.
The second half was even more competitive. Southern stretched its lead to 42-34 before assistant coach Paul McMahon got a technical foul while sitting on the bench. That seemed to be a spark for Ft. Hays' Tigers, who went on an 11-4 run to pull ahead 47-46.
The game then went back and forth with both teams trading baskets, and swapping small leads. Kinzer Lambert had a put-back dunk off of a missed three by Braelon Walker to put the Lions ahead 64-61. Within in the final minute, the Lions were down 75-76, with Lambert on the line to take the lead. He made the first free shot to tie the game at 76 but missed the second. The Tigers drove down the court and with 1.1 seconds left on the clock sophomore, Elyjah Clark had a monster block to help put the game into overtime. The Tigers inbounded the ball to Hadley Gillum, and Gillum missed the three point attempt to win the game.
In overtime, both teams were still trading baskets, but the Lions couldn't finish the job. Enis Memic fouled Fort Hayes' senior leader, Gillum, who was going after an offensive rebound. His two free throws put the Tigers up 86-85.
With a prayer, Lion senior Vince Fritz threw the ball down the court to Memic. The high throw went through Memic's hands to the Tigers to seal the win for Fort Hays.
Altogether there were 27 lead changes. The Lions' 10 missed free throws (29-39) would have been enough to win the game. The Lions missed a total of five free throws during the second half (14-18) and overtime (3-4). Thy shot 40 percent throughout the entire game (26-65), and a dismal 17 percent (4-23) from deep, where the Lions usually excel.
Carr finished with 28 points and eight rebounds, Lambert added 17 points and six rebounds, Clark struggling from deep at 1-8, still managed 14 points and 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Memic was the last Lion in double digits with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Lions will be waiting Sunday for the NCAA DII Central Region rankings to come out, in hopes they stay in the top eight in order