By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
It sure didn’t take long for the madness of March to appear in the MIAA Postseason Tournament.
After trailing most of the game, Missouri Southern won 68-66 on Monday night at Emporia State after a frantic final 4.4 seconds that saw the Lions lose the ball out of bounds, the Hornets give the ball right back on a rarely seen traveling violation on a spot throw-in, and the Lions’ Marquis Addison make two free throws with 3.5 seconds left.
Lost in the bizarre finish was a strong contribution by the Lions’ bench.
Greg Renfroe, 6-foot-8 freshman, scored six points — two on an emphatic two-handed dunk — during 10 first-half minutes. Austin Wright, 6-1 freshman, hit a 3-pointer with 7:50 left to give the Lions a 58-57 lead, their first lead since the game’s first three minutes.
Stephen Atkinson, who moved into the starting lineup because of Blaine Miller’s back problem, had 11 points, seven in the last five minutes. His two free throws with 4:33 left and three-point play 33 seconds later both gave the Lions one-point leads, and he tied the game 66-66 with two charities with 32 seconds to play.
“Greg came in and was really solid for us,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “Stephen stepped up and played with the toughness you need to play with. And Austin’s 3 was huge. That put us up one. Guys certainly came in and gave us good minutes off the bench.”
Wright played with his right thumb taped after he injured it in Sunday’s practice. Miller watched from the bench in street clothes after suffering back problems in Saturday’s game at Central Oklahoma. His status for Thursday’s quarterfinal game against Fort Hays State is a game-time decision.
With the Lions’ come-from-behind victory, Corn becomes the first visiting coach to win on Ron Slaymaker Court, which was dedicated last Thursday in honor of the winningest coach in ESU history. Slaymaker also played for the Hornets from 1954-55 and 1957-60 after a stint in the Army. He still holds the school record for career free-throw shooting (86.2 percent).
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Corn said. “He’s one of the all-time greats. He was in the business for the right reasons. He’s an excellent basketball coach. When you went against his team, you knew you were in for a battle.
“When I first got in the league (1989), we had Ron at Emporia State, Willard Sims at Truman State, Ron Shumate at Southeast Missouri. We had some veteran coaches who were really good basketball coaches.
“It was an honor for me to compete against those type of guys.”
Restart, review, reset
The start of Monday’s game provided a hint of madness as everyone inside White Auditorium except the three officials saw Emporia State’s 6-11 Paul Bunch tip the opening jump out of bounds.
One official said “white” (ESU’s uniform color) and then pointed toward Missouri Southern’s basket. After a conference, the officials decided to restart the game and reset the clock to 20:00.
With 26 seconds left in the half Bunch was called for his third foul, and a long delay — five minutes or so — followed while officials went to the replay monitor to determine who got fouled.
Officials also went to the official scorer and asked if the Lions had made a substitution since the foul, which they had not. An official later explained they were also looking for a possible elbow being thrown, which there was not. They eventually decided Bryan Adams was fouled, and, perhaps iced by the equivalent of at least five timeouts, he missed both shots.
Then in the waning seconds, officials reset the game clock to 3.5 seconds after Addison was fouled. Summarizing the message to the clock keeper: Put 3.5 seconds on the clock and we’re not going to that monitor.
Tom Smith’s 38-year coaching career concluded Monday night with Missouri Western’s 65-43 loss at Northwest Missouri State.
The Bearcats made 15 treys, including eight by Alex Sullivan.
Smith ends his career with 618 victories, the last 448 coming in 25 seasons at Missouri Western.
Central Oklahoma made 17-of-26 3-point shots in a 103-89 home victory over Southwest Baptist. The Bronchos led 65-40 at halftime, almost enough points to win the Missouri Southern-Emporia State game.