Keyon Boyd made only two field goals all game Saturday night -- but his final one proved to be a dagger for Southeast Missouri State University.
Boyd, Tennessee Tech's sophomore guard, hit a 15-foot baseline jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining to snuff out a furious Southeast comeback as the Eagles prevailed 71-69 in front of 3,938 fans at the Show Me Center.
The Indians had rallied from a 69-55 deficit with under four minutes remaining to tie the contest on Derek Winans' 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. But then Boyd came through to hand Southeast an 0-2 homestand to begin Ohio Valley Conference play. The Indians are 7-6 overall. The Eagles are 7-6 and 1-1.
"William Moore penetrated, I just found the open spot, squared up and it went in," Boyd said.
For Southeast, it was a second straight bitter pill to swallow, coming on the heels of Thursday's 52-48 home loss to Austin Peay in which the Indians played a dismal first half but had a shot to tie or win at the end of the game.
But as far as Indians coach Gary Garner was concerned, this setback was actually a bit easier to swallow.
"We didn't lose the game, we just got beat," Garner said. "Thursday, I thought we gave the game away. I can stomach this loss much easier."
Garner was so disturbed by Southeast's performance -- particularly offensively -- against Austin Peay, he shuffled his lineup Saturday, benching three players who had been starting, including leading scorer Dainmon Gonner.
Damarcus Hence replaced Gonner. Also inserted were Brett Hale for Norman Prather and Terrick Willoughby for Mike Nelke.
"I changed the lineup because I was so disappointed in our offensive execution Thursday," Garner said. "I think it helped us. I thought Damarcus played well, gave us a lot of energy."
Winans led the Indians with 18 points as he was Southeast's Copi-Rite player of the game. Nelke came off the bench and scored 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting from 3-point range. Reggie Golson, who had played little in recent games, added 12 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting. He also had five rebounds.
"Maybe Reggie kind of found himself," Garner said.
Hence contributed nine points, five rebounds and a late hustle play that led to Southeast's possession on Winans' tying 3-pointer.
"He was just trying something new," Hence said of Garner's moves. "I just wanted to contribute, but I'd have rather not played at all and we won."
Junior forward Willie Jenkins, a transfer from Massachusetts who is the OVC's third-leading scorer, led the Eagles with 23 points. He had 20 second-half points as Tech rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit. Senior guard Cameron Crisp added 18 points for the Eagles.
"They hit some good shots and we knew they'd make a run," Jenkins said. "But at the end the ball fell our way."
Southeast opened up a 44-34 halftime lead, but the Indians went cold in the second half while the Eagles caught fire, using their quickness to penetrate either for layups or outside shots.
Tech outscored Southeast 35-11 over the first 16-plus minutes of the final period and appeared to seal the victory with a 69-55 lead.
"I think we came out a little flat in the second half, they made a run and we never recovered," Winans said.
But the Indians went on a 14-0 run of their own, getting a three-point play from Brandon Griffin, a 3-pointer from Nelke, a 3-pointer from Hence and a basket from Golson with 2:01 left to make it 69-66.
A short time later, Hence went to the floor to battle for a loose ball after a Tech miss and Southeast quickly called timeout to retain possession with 44 seconds left, which led to Winans' tying shot.
But after Tech ran the clock down, ultra-quick point guard William Moore penetrated into the lane, was sealed off and found Boyd for the winning shot.
Of the second half, Garner said, "I thought we got good shots. They had such good athletes and they hurt us with their penetration, and Jenkins got hot. You have to take your hat off to them."
Added Winans, "It's real frustrating because we know we had two games we could have won. We just have to stay positive and bounce back."