Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern men's basketball team will close out the regular season on Saturday with a trip to Edmond, Okla. to take on the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos. Tip off from Hamilton Fieldhouse is slated for 3:30 pm.
The Lions' Last Time Out (12-13, 7-10 MIAA):Despite scoring a season-high 59 points in the second half, the Missouri Soutehrn basketball team dropped a heartbreaker tonight in John Lance Arena as the Lions fell 94-91. The Gorillas raced out to a 6-2 lead early on in the first half after a free-throw from Denton Hays with just under 18 minutes to go. A layup from Leverette cut the lead to just one (10-9) at the 15 minute mark, but Pitt went on an 11-0 run over the next two minutes to open up a 20-9 lead capped off by a pair of free-throws from Kaleb Porter. Southern answered back with a run of its own as a 9-4 run capped off by a free-throw from Blaine Miller cut the score to 22-18, Pitt with 10:49 left in the half. That would be as close as the Lions would get in the half, as PSU went on a 12-0 run to go up 34-18 with just under eight minutes left in the half and the Gorillas would lead 49-32 going inthe locker room at the break. Southern opened up the second half on a 17-7 run to cut the lead to just five (56-51) after a three from Leverett with 14:22 left to go in the game. Pitt would push its lead back to 12 (77-65) after a three-point play from Adams with 7:41 left in the game. A three pointer from Addison with 2:34 left to go in the game cut the lead to five (85-80). A pair of free-throws from Addison with 1:46 left to go made the score 87-84, Pitt and a bucket from Talbert the next time down cut the lead to one (87-86). A three-point play from Porter with 15 seconds to go gave the Gorillas a four-point advantage (92-88), but a three from Cameron Cornelius the next trip down the court with just under nine seconds made the score 92-91. The Lions got the ball after a pair of missed PSU free-throws with five seconds on the clock, but turned it over and the Gorillas used a pair of free-throws to ice the game.
The Bronchos' Last Time Out (12-13, 10-7 MIAA): Free throw shooting throughout the game and a cold spell in overtime proved costly to Central Oklahoma here Wednesday in an 83-71 loss to Northeastern State. The Bronchos made just 12-of-24 foul shots in the contest and went 1-of-8 from the field in the five-minute extra session to drop their second straight Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association road game. The loss knocked UCO out of contention for a top-four finish that would have earned it a first-round bye in the MIAA Post-season Tournament, though the Bronchos are assured of hosting an opening-round game Monday night at Hamilton Field House. UCO fell to 12-13 on the season and 10-7 in the conference, dropping to seventh in the standings. The RiverHawks improved to 19-7 and 12-6 in their regular season finale.
The Coaches: In his 24th season as head coach at Missouri Southern, Robert Corn has guided the Lions to 20 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Postseason Tournament berths (15 straight) and four trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The 1999-00 Division II Bulletin National Coach of the Year, he holds a career record of 387-295 (.570) at Southern, and is the winningest head coach in Lions basketball history. A 1978 graduate of Southern, he has led Southern to eight 20-win seasons. His 1999-2000 team went 30-3 and advanced to the NCAA-II Elite Eight semifinals. Corn is fifth on the all-time MIAA wins list and third among active MIAA coaches. He is a three-time MIAA Coach of the Year winner, including a unanimous selection in 2010-11.
Now in his 11th year at the helm of the Central Oklahoma men's program is Terry Evans, a former college standout who has built the Bronchos into a perennial NCAA Division II power.Evans is 208-92 in 10 years at UCO and has directed the Bronchos to seven national tournament appearances, including one Elite Eight and one Sweet 16. He also led the team to six Lone Star Conference North Division titles and two overall league crowns during Central's association with that league.
The Series: This is a short series between the Lions and the Bronchos as Central Oklahoma has a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series. The Lions lost the first game of the series at home on 11-23-73 to then Central State University as UCO was known. Southern then won a game against the Bronchos in the Pittsburg State Tournament in 1991 and UCO has won the last two in a row. One of them being in a regional in 1993 and the other being at Missouri Southern.Southern is 1-2 at home 0-1 on the road and 1-0 in neurtral site games after taking the game on Monday night against UCO.