December 19, 2003
No. 4 'Cats Come Back, Stop Centra Washington
LAS VEGAS , Nevada -- No. 4 Northwest Missouri State trailed for the first 31 minutes Friday against Central Washington at the High Desert Classic. But the Bearcats had the lead when it counted, at the final buzzer, taking a 77-74 victory over the Wildcats.
Central Washington scored twice before Northwest ever touched the ball. The Wildcats' Jay Thomas hit a layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but CWU pulled down the rebound and got it to Thomas, who scored again for a 4-0 lead. Kelvin Parker (Sr., Raytown, Mo.) cut it to 4-2 for Northwest.
But Central Washington then went on an 11-0 run to take a 15-2 advantage. The run was book-ended by a pair of Thomas dunks. Thomas, who averages 8.0 points per game, had eight in the first four minutes.
The Bearcats pulled back within five on a Jesse Shaw (Jr., Lincoln, Neb.) three-pointer. But another Central Washington run, this time an eight-point spurt, gave the Wildcats a 13-point lead again, 25-12, with 12:32 left in the half. Northwest continually chipped away at the lead, eventually pulling within three, 39-36, on a Victor James (Fr., Crowley, Texas) bucket with less than a minute left in the first half. CWU took a 39-34 lead to the locker room.
The Wildcats outscored Northwest 7-2 over the first three minutes of the second half, pushing their advantage back to 10, 46-36. But Northwest wouldn't quit. Parker, who played the entire game along with Wilson, hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit back to single digits. Another Parker three pulled the 'Cats within three, 53-50, midway through the second half.
Wilson hit a layup with 8:58 remaining, pulling Northwest within one point, 57-56. The Bearcats got a stop and a layup from James to take their first lead at 8:26. Central Washington regained the lead and was up 65-63 with 4:26 left. But a pair of inside buckets by Byron Jackson (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) put the 'Cats on top 67-65. CWU tied it up one more time at 67-67 with just more than two minutes remaining.
The Bearcats regained the lead on a Jackson free throw and pushed it to three on Parker's layup with 1:12 left. Northwest hit seven of eight free throws over the final 51 seconds to hold on for the victory.
Parker scored a game-high 27 points. Wilson added 13, while Jackson scored 11 and James tacked on 10.
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