By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
EMPORIA, Kan. —
The game began with a do-over on the jump ball and — believe it or not — had an even more unusual ending.
After an exchange of turnovers with 4.4 seconds left, Marquis Addison sank two free throws one second later as Missouri Southern squeaked past Emporia State 68-66 Monday night in an MIAA Postseason Tournament play-in game at White Auditorium.
The ninth-seeded Lions (13-14), after avenging two regular-season losses to the Hornets, advance to the quarterfinals and will tackle top-seeded Fort Hays State at noon on Thursday in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
The Hornets (13-14) led 66-63 after Chris Sights drove down the right side for a bucket with 1:37 left, but the Lions pulled even on Addison’s free throw with 1:18 to play and two charities by Stephen Atkinson with 32 seconds left.
“When I was a little kid, I always dreamed about that opportunity, getting to the line with the game on the line, big free throws,” said Atkinson. “In the gym practicing, you put that situation in your head, so I was ready for it. I wanted to hit them, and I did.”
Emporia State had the chance for the final shot, but Addison stole the ball near midcourt with 19 seconds left. After a timeout, Addison was dribbling near the right sideline and the ball went out of bounds and was awarded to Emporia State with 4.4 seconds left.
The Hornets took a timeout, but Gavin Brown moved along the baseline on the spot throw-in, and the violation gave the ball back to the Lions.
After another timeout, Addison threw the ball inbounds to Jordan Talbert, and Addison was fouled as he attempted to take a handoff from Talbert. Addison’s two charities hit nothing but net, and the Hornets’ shot from beyond halfcourt banged off the backboard.
“I embrace free throws at the end of the game,” Addison said. “I love it, and I know that’s the easiest way for me to (score).”
Addison’s miss on his previous trip to the foul line never entered his mind.
“You make some, you miss some,” he said. “When I shot that one, I felt it was short. I just had to make sure I got on my toes and hold my follow through.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game with that much action going on in that short of a period of time,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “It looked like we were going to get the last shot, then the ball goes out of bounds. I thought it should have been our possession, but it was called their ball. Then their kid … that’s easy to do. I saw a kid from Wisconsin do it the other night. He just forget it was a spot throw-in and moved his feet and allowed us to get the opportunity.”
“We thought we were playing for overtime, then they made a mental mistake and walked with the ball on the baseline,” Talbert said. “We got it back, and Coach drew up a play for me to get Marquis the ball. They’d been reaching all game … the ref was already looking for it from the previous play, and they called a foul. Marquis stepped up, being a huge leader and knocked them down. It’s a huge win for us.”
Both teams shot 88 percent from the foul line, but the Lions cashed in more opportunities — 30-of-34 compared to the Hornets’ 16-of-18. Talbert went 10-for-10 from the line, Atkinson 7-of-7 and Addison 9-of-10.
“I knew for us to win on the road, we’d definitely were going to have to get the points they gave us,” Talbert said. “From the free-throw line, they’re free and we have to get those. We needed every last one of them.”
“If we go 27-for-34, which normally we would be happy with that percentage, we lose the basketball game,” Corn said. “It took every one of the 30 out of 34 to win the game. Stephen hit two big ones, and we had the ball at the end of the game where we wanted it, in Marquis’ hands.”
Talbert tallied 16 points, followed by Addison with 15 plus 11 rebounds. Atkinson contributed 12 points.
Sights scored 15 and Terrence Moore 13 — doubling his season average — for Emporia State. Season scoring leader Kaleb Wright was 1-of-10 from the floor and had five points, and 6-foot-11 Paul Bunch, whose size hurt the Lions in both regular-season games had nine points, four rebounds and five blocked shots. But he played only 21 minutes after picking up his second and third fouls in the last minute of the first half and his fourth foul 13 seconds into the second half.
“It gave us confidence to go to the rack,” Talbert said. “Not having his presence in the middle, it gave us a lot of confidence making a move and going to the rack.”
“That was a big key in the ball game, his foul trouble,” Corn said. “His size affects the game so much. It definitely was to our advantage for him being on the bench.”
The Hornets led 44-34 at halftime after shooting 53 percent from the floor and committing just two turnovers. But in the second half they shot 22 percent (6-of-27) and had eight turnovers.
The Lions shot 43 percent (18-of-42) and outrebounded the Hornets 31-26. The Lions had 16 turnovers – nine in the first half.
“I felt like we self-destructed a lot in the first half,” Corn said. “That was a focal point in the locker room at halftime. We have to eliminate the self destruction. If we do, we’ll come back and win the ball game.”