Jan. 31, 2013
Crooker gives Bearcats dramatic last-second win
MARVYILLE, Mo. – After trailing most of the game, freshman Connor Crooker was fouled as he hit a driving layup with 4.3 seconds and knocked down the ensuing free-throw to complete the Bearcats comeback in a 73-72 win over Northeastern State Thursday night.
The Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team improved to 14-5 on the year and 7-3 in league play to pull into a second place tie with Washburn. The visiting RiverHawks also fell to 14-5 overall and 7-5 to sit a half a game behind the Bearcats and Ichabods.
Crooker nailed his only three-pointer with 11:47 left in the game to pull Northwest within two points at 53-55. The freshman also finished the night a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line to help add to his career-high 24 points.
Nearly three minutes later the Bearcats would take their first lead of the game after Matt Wallace drained a pair of free-throws and Crooker duplicated the effort with 6:35 left in the game. However, the Bearcats’ lead would be short lived as Jon Miller nailed a deep three-pointer to put NSU back ahead, 60-59.
A trapping Bearcat defense forced 14 turnovers as the RiverHawks’ miscues sent Northwest to the free-throw line 32 times. Northwest finished the night 29-of-32 from the charity stripe including a 9-for-12 effort from Bryston Williams. Williams finished with a season-high 17 points.
The game-winning basket was set-up after Jermaine Bransford missed the back end of two free-throws with 27 seconds left.
A driving Wallace found Alex Sullivan in the corner for three of his four points on the night as the trey pulled Northwest within two at 72-70.
NSU would have one more chance to ice the game when Bryton Hobbs missed two free-throws with 10 seconds left. Crooker would take ball nearly the length of the court drawing the foul as his layup tied the game at 72-72.
Grant Cozad also added a career-high 19 points as the Bearcats played their first game without leading scorer, Dillon Starzl. The sophomore added seven rebounds in the win.
Northwest held the RiverHawks’ leading scorer, Bryton Hobbs to just nine points. The MIAA’s leading rebounder, Jermaine Bransford finished with 17 points and just two rebounds.
The Bearcats quickly return to the hardwood Saturday to face Emporia State at Bearcat Arena. Tipoff between the Bearcats and the Hornets is set for 3:30 p.m.
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