By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball game on Jan. 11, 2006, at Pittsburg State could be divided into two 43-point segments.
The Gorillas, led by guard Eddie Jackson’s 38-point performance, owned a 71-43 lead with 13:40 remaining.
“We were down so bad, a lot of our fans left before the game was over,” Lions coach Robert Corn remembered. “And to be honest, I can’t blame them. I made a reference on the radio show that if some of them had stopped and asked me to go with them, I might have gotten in the car, too.”
But what those Lions fans missed — and those among the crowd of 2,814 who stayed witnessed — was one of the biggest comebacks in NCAA basketball history.
The Lions outscored Pittsburg State 43-13 in the final 13 minutes to post an unlikely 86-84 victory.
“The fans who did stay certainly got their money’s worth,” Corn said. “I think the ones who did stay, each and every one of them came up and congratulated us after the game.
“You don’t expect to come back from a 28-point deficit when you really haven’t played very good basketball for about 30 minutes. We just couldn’t get anything going. I remember at a timeout, I said we can get back in this but it will take 10 straight stops and us convert on the other end. At the time you say that, people think yeah, right. But we got the first stop, then got the second stop, then the third stop. All of sudden the margin starts getting smaller and smaller ... and we got right back into it.”
The Lions made six 3-point goals in the last 101⁄2 minutes, including two straight by Daron Harris that made it 74-56 with 10:15 left. The prevailing thought among the Lions faithful at that time was at least the score will be more respectable.
Missouri Southern still trailed 84-68 with 5:27 remaining, but the Gorillas did not score again, missing four field goals, two free throws and committing three turnovers on their last eight possessions.
The Lions, meanwhile, scored on each of their final seven possessions, starting with 11 straight points in a 21⁄2-minute span by guard Quentin Edwards, who finished with 27 points.
Baskets by Tyler Ryerson and Ed Miles pulled the Lions within one point. Miles was fouled on his shot but missed the free throw that would have tied the game with 30 seconds left. The rebound, however, went out of bounds to the Lions.
After a timeout, the Lions did not get a shot off the set play they called. Miles, however, got the ball and nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Lions a two-point lead with 19.2 seconds left. The defense then made one final stop as Jackson’s guarded 25-footer was short at the buzzer.
Miles and Harris joined Edwards in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively, and Ryerson had 10 assists.
“It was just an unbelievable accomplishment on our guys’ part,” Corn said. “It was one of those things you don’t see very often.”