EDMOND, Okla. – It hasn’t been the best preseason for Winston Dessesow, who rehabbed a knee injury and spent time in quarantine.
But as the final seconds of Missouri Southern’s basketball season opener wound down, Dessesow answered the bell and knocked down a 15-foot jumper from the right wing with 9.2 seconds left to lift Missouri Southern past Central Oklahoma 75-74 on Thursday night in Hamilton Fieldhouse.
The Lions led 63-54 with 8:22 remaining, but they didn’t make a field goal for almost six minutes, and the Bronchos took the ball strong to the basket during a 15-2 spurt that produced a 69-65 lead.
Dessesow’s 3-pointer from the left corner ended the Lions drought, and a minute and a half later Cam Martin’s three-point play after a give-and-go dunk with RJ Smith and Stan Scott’s dunk tied the game at 73 with 56 seconds left.
The Bronchos regained a one-point lead when Justin Nimmer made the back end of a two-shot free throw with 37 seconds to play.
The Lions did not call a timeout and worked the shot clock below 10 seconds before Dessesow took the pass from Martin and elevated from the right wing for the game-winner.
“We didn’t want to call a timeout,” Dessesow said. “We had faith in our guys, and we still had 30 seconds on the shot clock.
“Try to get the best shot possible, trying to get it to Cam down low. He’d been scoring the whole game. They tried to double him down, and he did the next-best thing … give it to me. Thank God I made the shot.”
Dessesow was well aware the shot clock had gone below 10 seconds.
“Thanks to my bench and coaches,” he said. “They yelled at me, ‘late shot clock, late shot clock.’ And I’m glad our best player had faith in me to give me the ball to take that last shot. It’s not just me. My team did that.”
“Once we got the ball out, I was looking to see if we had any advantage that we could take by pushing the ball and not letting them get set completely defensively,” said assistant coach Paul McMahon, who is calling the shots while head coach Jeff Boschee begins a quarantine. “We allowed our players to make the decision, to get into something we work on every day.
“That’s the type of player Winston is. He’s a playmaker. He looks for those moments to where he can make a big play. He’s definitely not a kid who’s shy of the spotlight. Whenever it’s in his hands, that’s where I wanted it. When you give great players like him a chance to make those plays, it’s amazing how many times they do it. It’s good to see him in his element and knocking down those shots.”
The Bronchos did not get off a shot on their final possession as Cam Givens, who scored 27 points, stumbled as he drove toward the lane.
Martin, 6-foot-9 senior, netted 27 points to lead the Lions and share game honors. He scored 18 points in the second half, finishing 10-of-16 from the floor, 3-of-4 from the arc and 4-of-7 at the foul line.
“He was much better the second half,” McMahon said. “Part of that was the zone kind of messed with him. Once we figured it out and started getting it to him in the middle of the floor, he found a lot of success. He’s such a dynamic player … he can hurt you in so many ways.”
Dessesow added 21 points, nailing five treys among his seven field goals, and Scott provided a spark off the bench with 14 points, his high with the Lions, plus two blocked shots.
The Lions return to action Saturday afternoon at Newman in Wichita.