The No. 20-ranked WTAMU Buffalo basketball team hosted the Missouri Southern Lions and the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves on Nov. 23-24 for the 2012 Pak-A-Sak Thanksgiving Classic. The Buffs escaped with a 57-55 buzzer beater win over the Lions and WT defeated Pueblo 79-65 to end a streak of three-straight games won by a buzzer beating shot.
MSU got off to a fast start on Nov. 23, taking an early 10-2 lead over the Buffs five minutes into the game. WT would begin to find their offensive stroke when junior Barry Johnson drained a three-pointer that cut the Lion’s lead down to 12-6 and propelled a Buffs’ run of 11-5 that diminished MSU’s lead down to 17-14. The Lions would outscore WT 10-8 for the rest of the first half, taking a 27-22 lead into the break.
“We turned the ball over too many times and that’s probably the story of the game,” Head Coach Rick Cooper said.
The Buffs were nine of 20 shooting from the field for 45 percent. Senior Donald Sims led WT’s offense with 11 first half points and redshirt senior Mason White followed with five points.
MSU started the second half on a 13-5 run that give them a 40-27 lead with around 14 minutes to go in the game. The Buffs responded with a 20-7 run that tied the game at 47 all with 5:30 remaining. WT took their first lead of the game when senior Darnell Jackson made two free throws that gave the Buffs a 54-53 lead with 49 seconds on the clock. After White missed two free throws with two seconds left, a bad inbound pass by the Lions gave White another chance to answer the bell, which he did by making a lay-up as time expired giving WT the win.
“We got a big stop at the end and it was the execution that won it,” said White.
The Buffs finished 23 of 45 shooting field goals for 51 percent. Sims tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds and White had 13 points.
Unlike the first game, the Buffs got a strong 12-3 start in the Nov. 24 game against CSU-Pueblo. WT would extend its lead to 39-25 into a Thunderwolves timeout with 1:06 left in the half. The Buffs would take a 41-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“It shows that when we get a good start and we maintain the strong play we can do good,” Jackson said.
The Buffs were 14 of 25 from the field in the half, shooting 56 percent. Sophomore Tez Dumars led WT with nine points, while Jackson and Sims each had seven.
WT started the second half on an 8-2 run that gave them a 49-27 lead three minutes into the half. Pueblo, however, would outscore the Buffs 38-30 for the rest of the game, and a total of 40-38 in the second half even though WT got the 79-65 win.
WT shot 27 of 46 for an impressive 59 percent from the field. Sims led the Buffs offense with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Jackson and Dumars each had 14 points on the night.
WT is now 6-0 on the season, their best start since they went 13-0 in 2010-2011. The Buffs will host their first Lone Star Conference game against Abilene Christian on Nov. 28.