The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 23, 2014

Cooper's late shot give Bearcats win over MSSU men

MARYVILLE, Mo. — DeShaun Cooper did it again.

Cooper, 5-foot-8 senior guard, hit a 19-footer with 3.3 seconds left to lift Northwest Missouri State past No. 22 Missouri Southern 79-78 Wednesday night before 1,945 fans at Bearcat Arena.

The showdown for the top spot in the MIAA standings certainly didn’t disappoint as the Lions (13-3, 7-2 MIAA) and Bearcats (14-5, 9-1) combined for nine lead changes and two ties n the last five minutes. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Bearcats hit the last shot.

Jordan Talbert sank two free throws to give the Lions a 78-77 lead with 57 seconds left. The Lions regained possession when Cooper’s shot in the lane was short, and Slim Magee rebounded with 44 seconds on the clock.

The shot clock went below 10 seconds when Cameron Cornelius drove down the left side of the lane, but his shot was blocked by Dillon Starzl. Cooper got the ball to the frontcourt, and his shot from the left wing — closely contested by Cornelius — hit nothing but net.

“He just made a big shot,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “It wasn’t one of those things where he wasn’t defended. Just give Cooper credit on that shot.”

With the length of the court to go, the Lions got the ball to Lane Barlow near midcourt, but his 25-footer from the left side hit off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

Barlow, averaging 6.2 points for the season, led the Lions with 17 points and four assists. Marquis Addison had 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Talbert finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Greg Renfroe, who fouled out with 3:59 left, grabbed nine rebounds as the Lions owned a 38-29 advantage on the boards.

Cooper hit 9-of-20 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws for his 32 points. He had 31 points and eight assists in the Bearcats’ 67-64 victory over the Lions in the final game of the 2011-12 season that also had the conference lead at stake.

He’s done that to us before,” Corn said. “He’s been a great player his whole four years here. He certainly hasn’t missed a step from redshirting last year with the knee injury. He’s just a tough matchup not only for us but for anybody in the MIAA.”

Starzl had 17 points and six rebounds, and Bryston Williams added 11 points.

The Lions led most of the game, including 42-32 at halftime, 48-35 early in the second half and 63-55 after two Cornelius free throws with 9:49 left. But the Lions made only five field goals and had seven turnovers in the last nine minutes, including four turnovers during a six-possession stretch when the Bearcats went on a 12-3 run to take a 67-66 lead on Cooper’s inside shot high off the backboard.

“That (stretch) was the difference in the ballgame,” Corn said. “We made some careless turnovers. I thought the ball started sticking in our hands a little too much. The first half we really did a great job moving the ball. As a result we had four turnovers and we shot 54 percent. Any time the ball sticks in your hands, you let the defense to set, and anytime you let a defense like Northwest set, it’s going to be hard to score against. We just got loose with the ball a few times, and they were able to get probably three fast-break baskets out of that. That’s what allowed them to get back in the game.”

Barlow and Addison combined for 23 points to lead the Lions to a 42-32 hafltime advantage. Barlow doubled his season average with 12 first-half points, hitting 5-of-5 field goals and 1-of 2 free throws, and Addison was 4-of-5 from the floor and 2-of-2 at the line.

Barlow and Addison combined for the Lions’ first nine points, and Barlow had three points during a 10-0 spurt that gave the Lions a 19-9 lead. The run also included baskets by Magee and Blaine Miller and a 3 from Austin Wright.

The Bearcats trailed by six points before a layup by Cornelius and jumper by Addison gave the Lions a 10-point lead at the break.

The Lions are back at home Saturday afternoon against Missouri Western.

“We played some really good basketball,” Corn said. “That’s what you have to build on. I told the team we haven’t lost the championship. We just lost a game. There is still time to make up for this loss, and we can’t let this loss affect what we do on Saturday. We have to get ready for Missouri Western, and we still have Northwest coming to our place, so we have another opportunity. We just have to bounce back.”

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