Kansas City, Mo. -- A three from Skyler Bowlin with 39 seconds to go broke an 82-82 tie and the eighth ranked Lions went on to defeat Nebraska-Omaha 88-85, moving on to the championship game of the 2011 MIAA Basketball Tournament at historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
The Lions (25-3) win for the third time this season over the Mavericks (19-9) and are in the finals of the MIAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 when Southern lost to Central Missouri.
Keane Thomann set a new career high with 30 points today, going 13-17 from the field and adding seven rebounds. It is the fourth-straight game he has either tied or set his career high. Bowlin had 21 points, seven assists and three steals on the afternoon. Jason Adams scored 14 and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, while Marquis Addison scored eight, with three assists and two steals.
The Mavericks were led in scoring by 20 points from Tyler Bullock, while Jeff Martin scored 17 on 5-11 shooting from long range. Mitch Albers and Alex Welhouse scored 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Omaha opened up a 12-point lead (38-26) with 7:36 to go in the first half after a layup from Torrian Harris. The lead was 12 again with 2:12 left in the first half when a layup from John Karhoff made the score 51-39. A bucket from Thomann and a jumper by Jordan Talbert cut the halftime lead for the Mavs to 51-43.
A three pointer from Welhouse made the score 54-44 just 24 seconds into the second half, but the Lions answered back with a 14-3 run capped off by a layup from Bowlin to go up 58-57 with 13:28 left in the game. A layup from Thomann made the Lions' lead three at 60-57, but UNO scored the next seven points to go back up 64-60.
UNO would hold a slim lead until a pair of free-throws from Bowlin gave Southern a 78-77 lead with just under four to go. Four-straight free throws from Addison and Adams kept the Lions' lead at one, but a freebie from Albers tied the score at 82 with 1:33 left to go in the game.
Bowlin missed a three pointer the next time down, but Adams pulled down the offensive board. Bowlin would not miss a second chance and the senior drained a three with 39 seconds left to put the Lions up 85-82. A free-throw from Addison gave the Lions a four-point lead, but UNO was not done. Martin hit a three pointer the next trip down to cut the lead to one and Bowlin would make one of two free-throws the next the next trip down to give the Lions a two point lead (87-85). Martin attempted a three as time was expiring but the shot didn't go and Bowlin was fouled on the rebound. He made one of two for the final score.
The Lions out rebounded UNO 37-31 in the game and shot 48 percent from the field. It is the first time they have shot below 50 percent since a win at Fort Hays late in the season. Southern was 24-37 from the free-throw line, but won the game on the offensive boards, pulling down 14 to UNO's five and scoring 20 second-chance points. The Lions forced 17 UNO trunovers and scored 20 points off of the miscues.
The Lions will now face off with the winner of the Emporia State - Fort Hays game in the finals of the 2011 MIAA Basketball Tournament. Tip off from Municipal Auditorium will take place at 1 pm on Sunday.