With seven seconds left in the game, Ottawa University, Arizona’s Brian Carey drove to the basket with The Master’s University’s Darryl McDowell-White draped all over him. His shot missed and the ball bounced off the rim into the hands of Karriem Simmons.
Putting up a high-arching floater with under a second left, Simmons’ shot dropped to hand the Mustangs their fourth loss of the season in a 78-76 defeat at the MacArthur Center on Thursday.
“Get better,” said TMU men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Starr. “We have to get back to practice and do better if we want to win on Saturday.”
The Spirit (7-12 overall, 3-7 GSAC) took an early advantage in the game thanks to four consecutive 3-pointers and jumped out to a 14-5 lead, while the Mustangs had trouble getting the ball inside to center Tim Soares.
Soares finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists and five blocks.
Coupled with nine turnovers in the first half, the Mustangs (17-4, 7-3) looked disheveled at the free-throw line going 3-for-9 from the stripe, or 33.3%.
With 9:51 left in the first half, Brock Gardner hit the Mustangs’ first free-throws of the half after a technical by the Spirit’s co-leading scorer Shazier Lawson, who finished with 20 points, to trail 23-15.
Gardner recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“We just can’t get in a hole, we are not that good,” Starr said of the early deficit. “We have to guard better and make shots early on. We missed shots early on, missed free throws, made them believers and anything can happen.”
Heading into the break, the Mustangs trailed 39-27.
The Mustangs slowly chipped away at the lead in the second half, but only got within seven points of OUAZ after a McDowell-White corner three with 8:05 left.
McDowell-White scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
Then Jordan Starr went to work.
Out of an OUAZ timeout, down 58-50, Jordan drove the ball into the lane and scored. Off the inbounds play, he stole the ball and made the shot for an and-one.
He missed the free throw, but Gardner got the offensive rebound. Jordan hit a 3-pointer, got fouled, but once again, missed the free throw to trail by one point, down 58-57.
He finished the game with a team-high 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“He played well, we just have to be better defensively all night,” Kelvin said of Jordan. “That’s what it came down to and we couldn’t get stops.”
The teams seemingly traded baskets the rest of the way and OUAZ ended up with the game’s final possession and hit the game-winning shot.
The Mustangs host Arizona Christian University at 2 p.m. on Saturday.