By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
It’s certainly been a roller-coaster week for Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball team.
On Monday night the Lions defeated Central Oklahoma 85-77 to assure themselves a spot in an MIAA postseason tournament play-in game on Monday night.
But on Wednesday night the Lions fell short in a second-half comeback and lost 94-91 at Pittsburg State. Then 24 hours later Emporia State beat its rival Washburn 61-55 to end Missouri Southern’s chances of hosting the play-in game. The Lions will be the 9 or 10 seed and will play Monday night at Emporia State or Pittsburg State.
The task for the Lions is to put those disappointments behind them and focus on today’s regular-season finale at Central Oklahoma.
“There’s always a hangover after a disappointing loss, but from now on it’s win or go home for the most part,” junior guard Marquis Addison said. “If you can’t get up for the last game of the season, then you shouldn’t be out here.”
“We have to look forward and not look behind us,” junior forward Jordan Talbert said. “We have to focus on UCO now.”
“There’s no way you can sit back and dwell on the past,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “We put ourselves in position to not host a game by not being able to finish games. If you look at our conference season, there are four or five games where if we do a better job of finishing out the game, we win some of them. … You just have to put it behind you and get ready for the next one.”
The Lions (12-13, 7-10 MIAA) have lost half of their conference games by five points or less. During the last four games, the Lions have lost twice by three points and once by four points.
Central Oklahoma (12-13, 10-7) also is coming off a tough loss, an 83-71 overtime decision to rival Northeastern State as the Bronchos were outscored 15-3 in the five-minute extra session.
The Lions rallied in the second half to beat the Bronchos five days ago behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from Addison, 16 points from Austin Wright (who hit 5-of-8 from 3-point range), a career-high 13 points from Blaine Miller and a dozen rebounds from Talbert.
The Lions stormed back from a 17-point halftime deficit at PSU and had a possession to take the lead in the final seconds but turned the ball over.
After shooting 37 percent in the first half, the Lions hit 54 percent in the final half, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range. R.J. Leverette, Cameron Cornelius, Addison and Wright made two treys apiece, and Addison scored 19 of his game-high 29 points in the final half.
The Lions also outrebounded the Gorillas 20-14 after being dominated on the boards 25-12 in the first half.
“Coach really got on us and made it a focal point,” Talbert said. “I had zero rebounds at the half, and obviously something I take pride in is rebounding, so I had to go hit the boards.”
“They more than doubled us on the boards in the first half,” Corn said. “And we got some steals out of our press. Our press gave us some opportunities to get back in the ball game, and we started making some shots. We played pretty well for the last 20 minutes.”