WEATHERFORD — East Central’s men’s basketball matchup with Southwestern Thursday night inside the Pioneer Cellular Event Center was good to the last shot.
Southwestern’s Devin Pugh’s last-second jump shot hit the rim, rolled around and fell off as the Tigers held on for a heart-pounding 89-88 win.
East Central improved to 8-3 overall and moved into second place in the Great American Conference standings. Southwestern dropped to 3-10 and 1-6.
“It’s always great to get a win on the road,” said ECU head coach Ja Havens. “Our guys found a way to make enough plays to get home with a win. I’m really proud of our effort and resilience to get the job done.”
The Tigers led 87-81 after a layup by Brett Cannon with 1:22 left in the game.
Southwestern followed with two free throws from Pugh and a basket inside by Justin King with 27 seconds left to pull within 87-85 with 27 seconds left.
Camron Talley hit two free shots for ECU with 25 ticks remaining that pushed the lead to 89-85.
Southwestern’s Daniel Eibel drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 10.4 seconds left to get the Bulldogs within 89-88.
Following a SWOSU timeout, the Bulldogs fouled Talley, who missed two free throws with eight seconds remaining. Luke Lewallen grabbed the rebound for SWOSU and Pugh pushed the ball up the court before hoisting a deep two-point attempt with less than two seconds to play that wouldn’t fall at the buzzer.
Five of the eight ECU players that saw action reached double figures in scoring. Talley led the way with 16 points to go with six assists and two steals. Cameron Hines came off the bench and hit 5-of-7 field goals, including a trio of 3-pointers to finish with 13 points.
Cannon had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Marcus Lytle also contributed 12 points for the visitors.
Da’Rion King added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Tigers. Jeremiah Fleming just missed double figures with nine points.
East Central opened the game with a 15-5 run before Southwestern rallied and got within 22-20 on a 3-pointer by Luke Lewallen at the 11:03 mark of the first half.
The Tigers used a 14-2 surge to build a 36-22 after a conventional three-point play by Cannon at the 7:08 mark.
The Bulldogs rallied and after a 3-pointer by Collin Jennings with 36 seconds left, the Tiger lead had been sliced to 49-47 at halftime.
East Central opened the second half with a 22-10 surge and led 71-57 after a jumper by Hines with 11:23 left.
The Bulldogs again battled back to set up the exciting finish.
“We really played well offensively most of the night. They hit a bunch of shots in the first half and then late to cut it when we had been able to build leads,” Havens said.
SWOSU had four players reach double figures in scoring, led by 19 points Pugh on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. Justin King posted 16 points off the bench while Eibel had 15, helping SWOSU outscored the East Central bench 39-to-30. Collin Jennings stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 12 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals before fouling out in the final seconds.
East Central is back at home today, hosting league-leading Southern Nazarene at 3 p.m.