Athletic Event

Morton College

Morton pulls out thrilling overtime win as Chiefs lose eighth game by six or less points

Conference: Yes

Opponent: Panthers at Chiefs
73 - 75 (L) OT

Waubonsee lost another close game as Morton College hung on to win an overtime thriller 75-73. The Chiefs’ narrow defeat now gives them eight losses this season by six points or less. The loss also drops Waubonsee (5-13, 1-4) into a tie for last place in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference standings. Overall there were nine ties and a dozen lead changes in the game.

The first half was a contrast in styles with Morton (11-10, 2-3) pushing the ball up the floor whenever possible, and Waubonsee trying to keep the game a half court contest. As a result the Panthers scored a majority of their first half baskets on transition lay-ups, shooting 50 percent (13 of 26) from the floor and securing a 36-30 lead at the break.

The second half featured numerous miscues and somewhat sloppy play by both teams. In the initial nine minutes of the second half Morton committed 10 turnovers, three fouls, missed seven shots and scored just five points. Unfortunately the Chiefs nearly struggled just as much as they turned the ball over six times, committed three fouls, missed nine shots and scored only 11 points to pull even at 41-all.

Over the final 11 minutes of regulation the biggest lead for either team was just four points. A pair of free throws by the Panthers’ Quawone Harris put Morton ahead 58-54 with 2:11 left. A three-point basket by Waubonsee’s Naiem Johnson from deep in the right corner put the Chiefs in front 59-58 with 0:54 remaining. After a timeout Morton misfired on their next possession and eventually fouled the Chiefs’ Chris Bryson with 0:18 to go. Waubonsee’s point guard made both free throws to give the home team a 61-58 lead and a good feeling about picking up the win. However, after another timeout, the Panthers quickly responded as Chris Hester buried a clutch trey from the left corner with 0:12 left to knot the score. The Chiefs then called time out to draw up a potential game-winning play. On the ensuing play Waubonsee’s Sammie Hines appeared to be fouled as he tried to get off a 12-foot jumper with two seconds left. But much to the chagrin of Chiefs’ head coach Dave Heiss, no foul was called as the buzzer sounded.

In the five-minute overtime the Panthers stunned Waubonsee with a quick 12-3 run, highlighted by a pair of Devonte Coe three-pointers, his first points of the entire game. Trailing by nine with only 1:15 remaining, the Chiefs then staged a valiant comeback. A close in basket by Elliot McGaughy, a Panthers’ turnover and another big three-point basket by Johnson from the right corner suddenly made it a four-point game (75-71) with 0:48 to go. The Chiefs elected not to foul and made a great defensive stand as Morton failed to get a shot off before the shot clock expired. The Panthers’ 27th turnover of the game gave the Chiefs the ball back with 0:18 left. A three-point attempt by Ryan Sharp was off the mark, but Hester fouled Waubonsee’s  Zech Mauldin battling for the rebound with 0:03 remaining. Mauldin made both free throws to get the Chiefs within two points and Waubonsee called its’ last timeout to set up its defense. Hester then caught the inbounds pass between Chiefs defenders, slipped and fell to the ground as he alertly dished off the ball to teammate Chris Soczek underneath the Waubonsee’s basket. Again, much to the chagrin of Heiss and the home crowd, no traveling call was made as the buzzer sounded.

Hines led Waubonsee with 16 points and seven rebounds. Johnson was the only other Chiefs’ player in double figures with 13 points, including three baskets from long range. John Stark, the Chiefs’ 6’11” back-up center, tallied nine points and three blocked shots off the bench. McGaughy handed out nine assists and made two steals, while Bryson dished out six assists and recorded a pair of steals as well. Hester paced Morton’s attack with 21 points and 11 boards.