Add Southern’s most recent win to a long list of gut-wrenching, down-to-the-wire games that have kept coach Morris Scott frazzled since early January.
During their trip through the Southwestern Athletic Conference — which continued with Tuesday's stunning 62-60 comeback win in the tournament quarterfinals at the F.G. Clark Activity Center — the Jaguars have fallen into a pattern.
They often wait until the final minute (if not seconds), the game's outcome hanging in the balance. Sixteen of Southern’s 19 games against SWAC opponents were decided by 10 or fewer points this season.
Six games were settled by a single possession.
But Tuesday's win against No. 5-seeded Jackson State — which sent No. 4-seeded Southern to face No. 1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Friday’s tournament semifinal in Houston — was more than just a single-possession win.
This one had some controversy.
Southern point guard Eddie Reese launched a running 3-pointer with 0.06 seconds showing on the scoreboard.
Reese was fouled on his last-second prayer. Referees John Heatly, Glenn Tuitt and Kevin Chambliss reviewed to confirm Reese released the ball before time expired.
“I didn’t know it was an immediate foul. But when he let it go, I thought it was going in,” first-year coach Morris Scott said. “But then when I had seen (the Jackson State defender) run right through him, I said, ‘Ah, he’s got to call that foul.’ And sure enough, he called the foul, and (Reese) got it off in time and left some time on the clock.”
"It's my last game in my college career. Fought hard. I just hated it had to end that way," said Jackson State senior forward Treshawn Bolden, who added the game-changing call would’ve also been fair as a no-call, hoping to let the two teams determine a winner in overtime.
"But you can't control everything," Bolden added. "It is what it is at this point. ... I mean, in my honest opinion, in a game fought like that, you just let both of the teams fight it out in overtime. The game's tied. You're ending somebody's college career off a bad — I'm not going to say it's a bad call. ... It could've went either way."
Had Reese’s shot been released too late, Southern and Jackson State would have entered overtime.
Jackson State led for more than half of Tuesday's game and was ahead by four points with one minute remaining.
The Tigers missed a potential game-winning shot with less than 5 seconds remaining, leaving Reese enough time to speed down the floor, draw a foul and hit two of three free throws to extend Southern’s season.
“I’m just disappointed that we didn’t finish the game in the last 15 or 20 seconds,” Jackson State coach Wayne Brent said.
Southern will advance to meet No. 1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston.