Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
The Freed-Hardeman Lions took their final lead in the last two seconds of the Racer exhibition game Thursday night in an 87-85 overtime win.
Head Coach Matt McMahon led the Racers in his first game at the helm against an NAIA team who was picked to win the American Midwest Conference.
Freed-Hardeman senior guard Orlando Bass hit a jumper from the elbow with 1.4 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Lions the upset victory.
Murray State held the lead until 2:37 left in the second half when Freed-Hardeman senior forward Isaiah Harrison made two free throws to give the Lions a 72-71.
“There’s a reason we play Freed-Hardeman,” McMahon said. “It’s because they are extremely well-coached, they have very good players, they are disciplined, very good motion offense and so they test and expose your defensive deficiencies. I didn’t want to play an exhibition game where we would win by 50 points because that doesn’t help us. But he does an outstanding job.”
Lions Head Coach Jason Shelton had a record 2014-15 season when the team went 28-4 overall and are currently ninth in the country in the NAIA.
McMahon said the team didn’t do a good job from the defensive standpoint. He said the Lions know how to make the three-point shots that are necessary for them to win in these circumstances.
Bass finished 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and made his first three-point shot in the first four minutes of the opening half. From there, Freed-Hardeman sophomore guard Austin Dempsey and senior forward Isaiah Harrison each finished with eight points in the first half to cut the Racer lead to 38-34 at halftime.
The Racers had a 10-point lead midway through the second half until Bass converted three 3-pointers and a two free throws to give Freed-Hardeman a 72-71 lead.
Junior guard Damarcus Croaker hit the first of two free throws to tie the game 76-76 with 2.0 seconds left in the game. The Lions couldn’t get a shot off as regulation ended, forcing overtime.
Croaker hit an early shot from beyond the arc to start the Racers 7-2 run to begin overtime, but the Lions ended the game outscoring Murray State 9-2 in the final 2:18.
Bass’ final shot gave him a game-high 23 points and the win for the Lions of Freed-Hardeman.
Junior forward, Gee McGhee finished with 20 points to lead the Racers. Junior guard Bryce Jones added a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. Croaker joined Jones with 14 points, but added 10 rebounds for a double-double while senior forward’s Jeffery Moss and Wayne Langston also finished in double figures.
“The problem is not losing the exhibition game,” McMahon said. “The problem is if we don’t learn anything from it, if we don’t get better in practice tomorrow, if we put our heads down and pout and feel sorry for ourselves on our way back to the dorms.”
The Racers open nonconference play against Harris-Stowe State at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 in the CFSB Center.