RELEASE FROM MISSOURI SOUTHERN ATHLETICS:
Maryville, Mo. – The Missouri Southern men's basketball team trailed by as many as 21 in the first half and got as close as two with 19 seconds to play, but the Lions couldn't complete the comeback, falling 81-77 in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament tonight in Maryville.
Southern (20-10) was led offensively by CJ Carr as the senior scored 31 points and added seven assists, while going 11-for-11 from the free throw line. Elyjah Clark scored 19 points on 7-11 from the field and 5-8 from long-range, while Christian Bundy had 11 points, all in the first half. LJ Ross scored six and pulled down eight rebounds.
Southwest Minnesota (25-8) was led by 22 points and 11 assists from Ryan Bruggeman.
The Mustangs started out on fire, leading 16-2 with 16:04 left in the first half and eventually 25-4 with 12:25 on the clock. A layup from Clark with 5:39 left in the half got Southern within 12 (34-22) and capped an 18-9 run by the Lions.
LJ Ross hit a layup with 40 seconds left on the clock to get the Lions within 14 (46-32) and a three as time expired had the Lions trailing 46-35 at the break.
A three from Braelon Walker got the Lions within six (52-46) with 14:18 left on the clock and capped an 11-6 run for the Lions to start the half.
A three from Carr cut the lead to eight (61-53) with 10:30 left and after Southwest got back up by nine (67-58), a 4-0 run by the Lions got Southern within five (67-62) with 6:46 left. A pair of freebies from Carr with 5:14 left got the Lions within four (68-64) and after the Mustangs pushed the lead back to seven, a three from Clark made the score 71-64 with 3:24 left.
A three from Carr with 18 seconds left got the Lions within two (79-77), but that's as close as the Lions would get.
The Lions out rebounded SMSU 36-27 and shot 42 percent in the game, but Southern couldn't overcome the early deficit and a nearly 60 percent field goal percentage for the Mustangs in the game.
Carr finishes his career with 1,111 points and moves up the all-time scoring ladder in MSSU history into 14th place. His point total is the third-most points scored in MSSU history by a two-year player (Taevaunn Prince, 1,303 – Marvin Townsend, 1,167).
Clark finishes the season with 110 three pointers, just eight off the MIAA record for single-season threes. His career total of 199 is fourth overall in a career and just 66 off the all-time record of 265 held by Austin Wright.
The Lions, as a team, broke last season's single-season record for threes with 283 three pointers as well as the single-season record for three-point attempts with 715. The Lions also broke the single-season record for threes per game with 9.4.
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