Call it the Mansfield Miracle. Part II.
For the second straight season, the Houston Tigers pulled off a miraculous victory against Mansfield. Michael Buckner hit a 3-pointer while being fouled with 23.6 seconds left and his free throw capped a furious comeback as Houston rallied for a 53-50 victory Tuesday night.
The Tigers erased an eight-point deficit in the final 1 minute,13 seconds with three triples and poor free-throw shooting by Mansfield.
“Our kids deserved it,” first-year Houston coach Wayne Jessen said. “We kept battling back and battling back. They persevered and kept playing hard.”
With Houston trailing 50-47 with 32 seconds to go, Buckner dribbled to the right wing and used a screen to free himself at the top of the key. As a defender jumped at – and eventually fouled – him, Buckner unleashed a 3-pointer that rolled around the rim before dropping in. The ensuing free throw gave Houston its first lead since late in the first quarter.
Mansfield’s Quentin Berry missed a short shot on the other end, and sophomore Tyler DeWitt hit two free throws with 6.3 seconds left to seal the Tigers’ second dramatic victory against the Lions.
Last year, Houston (3-2) scored six points in the final 10 seconds to beat Mansfield.
“I guess it just happens,” Buckner said. “Two years in a row.”
Senior Jonathan Page led the Tigers with 13 points, including a huge 3-pointer that jump-started the late rally. Hutsell, who hit three triples, and Buckner scored 11 points each.
Berry led Mansfield, which was 12-for-24 at the foul line, with 16 points.
Houston scored the game’s first eight points and led 15-8 before Mansfield took control. The Lions rattled off a 13-0 run late in the second quarter for an eight-point advantage and led 27-23 at the half.
The Tigers were down 47-39 when Page drilled a key 3-pointer from the left baseline with 1:13 to go. After Nathan Jones missed two free throws, Hutsell connected from downtown to make it 49-47 with 57 seconds left.
Jones hit two free throws to give Mansfield a four-point lead, but DeWitt converted a quick layin that made it 49-47. Jones connected on one free throw with 32 seconds left, leaving the door open for Buckner’s heroics.
“It was lucky,” Buckner said. “I hadn’t made one the whole game.”
Mansfield still had an opportunity to tie the game following DeWitt’s two free throws that made it 53-50 with 6.3 seconds left. But Buckner picked off a pass in the frontcourt and dribbled out the clock.
“I really like this bunch,” Jessen said. “They work hard and deserve any success they have.”