PERKINSTON — Dillyn Neely's three free throws with 3.5 seconds left lifted Mississippi Gulf Coast to a hard-fought 62-60 win over Southern-Shreveport to close out the MGCCC Thanksgiving Classic.
Neely got the ball on an out-of-bounds play in the left corner, pump-faked, and sent a Jaguar player flying into him. He had one thought on his mind stepping to the line.
"Win," he said. "It was a dogfight. We came out a little flat and they got a lead. Time was on their side, so we had to give it all we had."
Gulf Coast (6-0) was down five with 3 minutes to play but showed guts by forcing three big turnovers by Southern-Shreveport (2-5) to help turn the tide.
"That's what we had to do," Bulldogs coach Jason Harrison said. "I knew Southern-Shreveport was a rough-and-rugged team, and probably the best team we had played. I've got a young team that sometimes doesn't believe what we tell them in the scouting report."
The Jaguars had fallen behind big early on Monday night to Northeast Mississippi, but played the Tigers tight after that.
Harrison made two free throws with 2:57 to play to cut the SUSLA lead to 58-55, and Neely made a short jumper from the left wing 47 seconds later to make it a one-point game.
The Jaguars scored their last basket on a put-back with 1:53 left to make it 60-57. Harrison drove the baseline to cut the deficit to one failed to make the free throw after he was fouled with 1:27 left.
Gulf Coast earned an inbounds play under the SUSLA basket with 5.5 seconds to play, and Jason Harrison drew up a play he'd never used before. Neely screened for center Damien Wheaton (Fr., Bay Springs/Bay Springs), then got a back-screen from Aaron Harrison.
He got the ball in the corner, and after having made two big 3-pointers earlier in the half, knew he'd have somebody running at him. He pump-faked, and the Jaguar flew into him.
Neely calmly made three straight freebies, and the Jaguars fumbled away their ensuing inbounds play.
"We had to fight against some guys who were a lot tougher than us, but toward the end, we just gutted it out," Harrison said. "It was a good win for us to show we can win games like this that are real ugly."
Gulf Coast returns to action immediately following the Thanksgiving break, traveling to New Orleans to play Delgado. Tipoff Monday is at 7:30 p.m.
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