It was anybody's game when the Tigers visited the Blackhawks of Southeastern on Saturday, January 19. With 1:02 left to play in regulation, the Tigers led the home team 73-72 as Jaquan Lightfoot went to the free-throw line for the Blackhawks. Lightfoot was 0-2 from the line up to this point. After two more Lightfoot missed free-throws, The Tigers secured the rebound and headed up court. With 55 ticks on the clock, the Tigers called a timeout to set up a play.
Coming out the timeout, the Tigers ran a set looking for a backdoor lob to sophomore, Kelton Edwards. The Blackhawks had the set scouted and forced the Tigers to continue to their second option. A ball reversal to Goran Vidovic resulted in a Vidovic travel and the 18th Tiger turnover of the game.
Down by one, the Blackhawks created isolation for DeAndre Barton on the right side of the floor. Barton drove left and missed a runner off the back rim. The miss corralled out and both teams locked up the ball for a jump ball. SCC was getting the ball back with :26 left on the clock.
After a Blackhawk timeout, it was again Barton driving on the right side of the basket. This time, he kicked the ball out to the far corner to Trenton Massner. Massner, who was just 1-7 from the field and 0-5 from beyond the arc, put up a shot from the corner. The shot hit nothing but the bottom of the net to put the home team ahead 75-73 with just 14 seconds left.
Following a Tiger timeout, JJ Foster found an open lane. The sophomore guard was fouled in the act of shooting and went to the line to shoot two. Foster, and 83% free-throw shooter, went 1-2 from the line to bring the Tigers within one. After the Foster made free-throw, a pressing Tiger defense forced the Blackhawks to call another timeout with 8.8 seconds remaining.
The Blackhawks inbounded the ball to DeAndre Barton who was fouled by Vidovic with 7.1 seconds left. Barton converted one of two attempts from the charity stripe. So with 7.1 seconds left, the Tigers still had life as they were down 76-74. Foster drove into the Tiger frontcourt before stumbling to the ground and losing the ball. Kelvon Fuller picked up the loose ball and was fouled. The foul sent Fuller to the line for two. After missing the first, Fuller converted on the second free-throw attempt to put the Blackhawks up 77-74 with just 1.3 seconds left. The Tigers inbounded the ball to Nick Fleming, but he was unable to get a shot off and the Tigers lost the conference game 77-74.
Both down the stretch and throughout the game, turnovers proved to be troublesome for the Tigers as they committed 19 turnovers compared to 10 by SCC. Those turnovers nullified the fact that the Tigers won nearly all other statistical categories as the won the battle of the boards 29-24, had five more assists than the home team, made three more free-throws, and outscored the Blackhawks by 24 points from three-point land. But at the end of the day, turnovers throughout the game hurt the Tigers and a turnover in the last possession sealed the victory for the hosting Blackhawks.
The loss moved the Tigers to 0-2 in conference play. MCC will get another shot at picking up their first conference win of the season on Wednesday, January 23 when they host the Reivers of Iowa Western.