The Spring Hill College men's basketball team used a buzzer-beating layup by junior guard Ricky Sears of Decatur, Ala., to slip by the Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO) Knights 84-82 in a non-conference game on Thursday night at the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.
After both teams stumbled through 39-39 first half that featured 24 total fouls and 12 turnovers, Spring Hill held a slim lead through most of the second half as the Knights refused to shaken off by the Badgers. With 10 minutes remaining it appeared Spring Hill was pulling away as the score had climbed to 61-54 in favor of the home squad, but SUNO clawed back to tie the game at 63 just two minutes later.
The teams then traded basket-for-basket and foul shot-for-foul shot over the next six minutes and exchanged the lead three times over the final two minutes of play.
Two free throws by SUNO's Kevin Dukes tied the game at 82 with 50 seconds on the clock and a missed shot by Sears that was rebounded by Jared Lewis of the Knights with 24 seconds left gave SUNO the ball and a chance for the final shot.
Dukes, however, missed a jumper with five seconds showing and sophomore forward Alex Looney of Mobile's Murphy High came down with the ball and threw a nice outlet pass to Sears who drove to the basket for the winning lay-in as the horn sounded.
Freshman center Jake Thelen from Edgewood, Ky., led all scorers with 21 points. Sears scored 15 points, senior point guard Tyler Schwab of Panama City, Fla., scored 12 points and sophomore Todd Martin of St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile added 11 points.
The Badgers shot 52.1% (25-48) on the night including 5-of-12 (41.7%) in 3-point attempts and out-rebounded SUNO by a 39 to 26 margin. Spring Hill lost the turnover battle, however, by giving the Knights the ball 16 times off nine steals while taking just 10 turnovers off five steals by SHC.
SUNO (0-1) was led by Kevin Dukes and Clyde Moore with 20 points each while Merlin Walker added 12 points. The Knights shot 47.4% (27-57) from the field as a team and were just 3-of-10 (30%) from long distance.
Spring Hill (0-1) will next travel to Hattiesburg on Saturday morning to face the University of Southern Mississippi in an exhibition contest at noon in the Reed Green Coliseum.