Posted: Jan 18, 2013 12:11 PM
FAYETTE, MO -- Eric Franklin's four-point play with 27 seconds to go in overtime sent Puckett Fieldhouse into a frenzy and Central Methodist to an 89-85 win against Culver-Stockton on Thursday night in Heart of America Athletic Conference men's basketball play.
Franklin and Melvin Tillman seemed to switch stereotypical roles Thursday in key moments. Franklin came into the contest known more for his assists numbers (ninth highest in the nation) than his ability to make clutch shots, but the Columbia native delivered four of his 11 points in the game when the Eagles (12-8, 5-3 HAAC) needed it the most. Franklin scored six straight points in the extra session that increased Central Methodist's lead from two to eight points, 87-79, in only 46 seconds.
It was Tillman, who entered as the team's leading and HAAC's third highest scorer, who found Franklin in the corner with time running down on the shot clock for the four-point sequence. The Richmond, Ind., native finished with only eight points but had five assists, one off Franklin's team-leading six.
The Eagles look to run away with the game early, opening on an 8-1 run in the first 3:46. Michael Banks, Jr. canned two threes in the early going as Central Methodist hit eight treys in the first 20 minutes. With the game tied at 10 at the 13:38 mark, the Eagles' Robert Mason hit one of his four first half three-pointers, igniting a 25-9 blitzing of the Wildcats (14-6, 5-3 HAAC). Mason hit three treys during the run, including a 25-footer to put the Green and Black in front 35-19 with 6:32 on the clock in the first half.
Elliott Black scored six of Central Methodist's final nine points in the first period as his team went into the locker room ahead 49-29 at halftime. Black dominated early and often, totaling 18 of his career-high 28 points before the break.
Culver-Stockton used 10-of-15 shooting from distance in the second half to crawl back into the game. Franklin made a three-pointer three minutes into the second period, pushing the home team's lead to 53-30 before Marshawn Norris and James Johnson began to heat up for the Wildcats. The duo spearheaded Culver-Stockton's comeback, which outscored the Eagles 44-21 down the stretch of regulation. Norris cut the deficit to single digits, 72-64, at the 4:25 mark for the first time since the early going of the first half, and Johnson hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with under a minute to play to tie the game at 74-all. A Tillman three-pointer as time expired barely missed the mark, and the game went into overtime.
Johnson and Mason exchanged threes in the first 50 seconds before Tillman beat three defenders in the paint for a bucket, putting the Green and Black back on top 80-79.
After Franklin converted two free throws, Johnson missed a running layup on the other end of the court, setting the stage for Franklin's clutch play.
Black was 10-of-24 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line. Mason ended the night with a season-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from behind the arc.
Central Methodist's Alex Barner also contributed a season-high in points with 12. The Fort Scott, Kan., product was a perfect from the floor (5-of-5) and three-point range (2-of 2). Derek Kitch had nine points and was 4-of-5 from the field.
Johnson and Norris combined for 53 points and 14 of their team's 16 threes, as Culver-Stockton entered Thursday leading the HAAC in total threes made and treys made per game. Johnson tallied 29 points. Norris had 24. Austin Keaton added 15 points.
Central Methodist shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) in the first half and 47.1 percent (32-of-68) for the game, hitting 11-of-21 overall from distance.
The Wildcats were 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from behind the arc after halftime and 44.3 percent (27-of-61) shooting overall.
The Eagles travel to Baker (Kan.) on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. CT.
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