The words were music to Austin Wright’s ears.
“Coach told me he was going to call my number because they play a zone,” Wright said. “He told me I’d get a chance to shoot. He said if I didn’t shoot, I was coming out. So, I just started shooting.”
And boy, did he shoot it.
Wright, 6-foot-1, 163-pound freshman from Bixby, Okla., drilled five of Missouri Southern’s school record-tying 15 3-point goals as the Lions gunned down Missouri Western 95-69 Saturday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Lions (7-4, 2-1 MIAA) shot 52 percent (35-of-60) overall from the floor and were 15-of-24 from long range to tie the record set against St. Gregory’s on Dec. 6, 2003. And remember, the Lions did not make a trey in a 58-50 victory at Arkansas Tech just over a month ago.
“We’ve all known we’re a better shooting team than what we’ve shot,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “I don’t think we’re as good as what we shot tonight. We had one of those extraordinary games, but by the same token, we know we’re not a 28 percent shooting team from the 3-point line, and we’re not a 43 percent shooting team from 2.”
Junior guard Marquis Addison hit four treys in the last five minutes of the first half and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lions. Wright added 19 points, and Stephen Atkinson had three 3s for half of his 18 points plus nine rebounds and three steals.
The Lions also received production on the inside as Jordan Talbert had 13 points and four blocked shots, and Greg Renfroe tallied 10 points.
In addition to a season-high points, the Lions handed out a season-high 25 assists, led by seven from Matt Everson.
Wright played in six of the Lions’ first 10 games and was only 1-of-10 from the field. But he made an early entrance against the Griffons and quickly paid dividends as he popped in a 3 from the right corner with 13:35 left in the half.
“Right then, I was like OK, it’s going to be a good night,” Wright said. “Our team, we shot well. They just congratulated me and said keep working, you’re helping us. They gave me the confidence.”
A minute later the hit another 3 from the same spot and one from the right wing, then he made a layup to lift the Lions from a four-point deficit when he entered to a 21-21 tie.
“We had a little heart-to-heart (Friday) in practice,” Corn said. “I knew with them playing a zone, he is our best outside shooter even though his numbers for the season don’t show it. He’s our best outside shooter. We knew we were going to have to shoot the basketball well to be effective against it. We felt like he was going to be a key to this game.
“I told him you have the green light. You’re the only guy on this team that can shoot it after one pass, but I want you ready to shoot it. If you hesitate, you’re going to come out. If you catch it and shoot it, you’re going to shoot a high percentage. And that’s what he did. He made that first one, and he took off from there.”
Two Talbert free throws put the Lions ahead to stay 27-25, and Addison’s late barrage of 3s plus one each by R.J. Leverette (off the glass) and Atkinson pushed the Lions to a 48-35 halftime lead.
Wright — appropriately — hit the record-tying trey from the left wing off a pass from center Greg Renfroe with 4:15 left. Moments later Matt Everson’s attempt for a new record was on line but just short, and while the fans screamed for one more attempt in the waning seconds, the Lions as they always do just held the ball.
Adarius Fulton led Missouri Western (5-7, 1-3) with 14 points, followed by Cedric Clinkscales with 12 and Dzenan Mrkaljevic with 10.
The words were music to Austin Wright’s ears.
- Missouri Southern Sports
Lions taking 11 to track nationals
Missouri Southern has 11 athletes — five men and six women — entered in a dozen events in this weekend’s NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Addison, Talbert grow into roles as Missouri Southern's leaders
In their four seasons as teammates, forward Jordan Talbert and guard Marquis Addison have made the natural progression from role players to team leaders.
Lions start series at Lindenwood
Missouri Southern is slated to begin a four-game baseball series today as originally scheduled for the first time since its season-opening series at home against Minnesota-Crookston.
Softball Lions open MIAA play
The Missouri Southern Lions softball team opens MIAA play with a tough test.
Dawn Grass' HR gives Lions split in softball twinbill
Dawn Grass belted a game-winning home run as Missouri Southern rallied to nip St. Joseph’s (Ind.) 5-4 Wednesday night and gain a split in their nonconference doubleheader at Lea Kungle Field.
Watson named defensive coordinator at MSSU
Missouri Southern assistant football coach Rashad Watson was officially promoted to defensive coordinator on Wednesday.
Southern begins spring drills with revised staff
Missouri Southern opened its spring football session Tuesday with the announcement of several coaching changes.
Lions, Miners split 2-0 softball games
Haley Kinnison fired a two-hit shutout as Missouri Southern defeated Missouri S&T 2-0 Tuesday afternoon to earn a split in their nonconference softball doubleheader.
MSSU golfers place 8th at Arkansas Tech
The Missouri Southern golf team finished eighth after the final day of action Tuesday in the Dave Falconer Memorial Classic hosted by Arkansas Tech at Chamberlyne Country Club.
Lions drop out of top MIAA spot after defeat
Emporia State knocked Missouri Southern out of first place in the MIAA standings with a 12-6, 9-3 sweep of a doubleheader Monday at Joe Becker Stadium.
- More Missouri Southern Sports Headlines
- Lions taking 11 to track nationals