Poor-shooting Buffs stumble versus Lions

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

     After shooting 36 percent from the field and 47 percent from the foul line, The Milligan College Buffaloes might have been lucky to still have a chance to win at the end of Saturday night's game against Bryan College.
     They didn't have that much luck.
     A missed three-pointer by Marc Curry in the final seconds prevented the Buffaloes from tying the contest, as Bryan went on to win 62-57 at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.
     In the end, the Buffaloes were scratching their heads about all the missed opportunities.
     "We're lucky," Milligan head coach Tony Wallingford said. "This just shows how hard the guys worked at times out there just to make a game of it, shooting that poorly. You've got to put the ball through the hoop to bring up the scoreboard and win games. We shot poorly and we still had a chance to win."
     Milligan had a golden opportunity late in the contest after a missed free-throw by Jonathan Little gave the Buffaloes 14.8 seconds to make something happen.
     They did, sort of.
     Jordan Simmons put up a three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left that went in, but there was only one problem. A timeout had just been called by the Buffaloes.
     After the timeout, Simmons found Curry for a three-point attempt, but it wasn't meant to be. Bryan's Josh Locy came up with rebound and was fouled.
     Locy hit two foul shots, and that iced the contest for Bryan.
     After the shot, Wallingford was visibly upset about the play.
     Wallingford was a little more relaxed a few minutes later when talking about Milligan's final possession, but it still wasn't what he wanted.
     "We had Mike (Morrell) coming off of player screen on the back. But Jordan made a read, and just went with an open guy in the corner. He had a good look at a three," Wallingford said. "It's not like we didn't get a shot. It's not necessarily what we drew up, but that doesn't mean we didn't get a good look at it. We just missed it."
     As for the play where timeout was called right when Simmons was shooting what would have been the game-tying trey, Wallingford feels he did the right thing.
     "We went on a previous situation at home here, where it was a similar situation, them at the line, x amount of seconds, and we came down and we like to play open court. We don't like to stop and set up and let them set their defense," Wallingford said. "We practice last second situations. The last game that this occurred, we came down and we looked unorganized, and we took a bad shot. This time I said, we're not going to do that again. I said we're going to try and set something and get a good look here.
     "That was the decision we made. We wanted to make it when we got to half-court. So Jordan got one up and knocked it down, but we had called a timeout. That's kind of the way the ball bounced for us tonight."
     Even though the ball didn't bounce Milligan's way in the last 15 seconds, Wallingford believes that the Buffaloes final possession didn't cost his team the game.
     Instead, he blamed the poor shooting night by the Buffaloes.
     "There are maybe 75 possessions in this game, and we felt that it shouldn't of got to that play. There are just many other plays that we should of made that we didn't."
     A 7-of-15 effort from the foul line didn't help matters.
     One player struggling at the line is the team's leading scorer, Jonathon Harris. Harris went 3-of-8 from the charity stripe in Saturday's contest.
     "Jon has a block right now, he doesn't go to the line with any confidence," Wallingford said. "He shot multiple ways. Now he goes to the line experimenting. We've discouraged him from that, but that's where it is.
     "So we're going to buckle down, and he's a good enough player that he can step up to the line and make 70 percent of his free-throws for us. But other guys stepped up there and missed as well. It was not just one person."
     Harris did lead Milligan in scoring with 19 points, while Craig Emmert added 13 to the Buffs cause.
     Dillon McElroy and Locy each poured in 16 to top Bryan.