Long shot drops Indians to 16th loss

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Nick Stapleton doesn't worry about range.

"As soon as I step in the gym, I feel that's in my range," Austin Peay's standout guard said with a laugh.

It must have seemed that way Saturday to Southeast Missouri State University when Stapleton's NBA-range 3-pointer with 12 seconds left lifted the Governors to a 68-67 victory in front of 3,950 fans at the Show Me Center.

The Indians, suffering yet another frustrating defeat, fell to 3-16 overall and 1-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference as they dipped into sole possession of last place. The Governors are 10-12 and 5-3.

"All the losses we've had are tough, but this is the toughest," said Southeast coach Gary Garner. "The others, we've kind of been in until the last three, four, five minutes, but this one, you could see it in the players' eyes, they were determined to win it."

With 26 seconds remaining, Southeast's 6-foot-8 Daniel Weaver, who played sparingly in recent weeks but came through with a strong performance off the bench, drilled a 15-foot baseline jumper to give the Indians a 67-65 lead.

Stapleton came back and rose up from about 25 feet away along the right side, the ball swishing through the net.

"I came off a double screen and knew I would be open," said Stapleton, a four-year starter. "It felt good as soon as I let it go."

But Stapleton was almost denied hero status. Derek Winans' shot from near the free-throw line in the final seconds was on line but hit the back of the rim and bounced high. The ball hit several hands on both teams but nobody could grab it as the buzzer sounded.

"It felt good," said Winans, a redshirt freshman guard who is the Indians' leading scorer. "I thought it was going in. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn't."

Stapleton, a quick 6-foot-1 senior who is the OVC's second-leading scorer at 23 points per game, poured in 28 Saturday as he hit 12 of 19 field-goal attempts.

"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," said Austin Peay coach Dave Loos. "I knew before we got here it would be a grind-it-out game. Gary does such a good job and he has some tough kids.

"When all else fails, including coaching, Nick can create shots."

Tim Scheer led the Indians with 14 points. Winans had 12, but he was scoreless in the second half. Weaver hit five of six shots and scored 10 points while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds. Demetrius King also had a solid game off the bench with 10 points as he hit two big second-half 3-pointers.

The Indians started strong and built a 31-15 lead with 4:55 left in the first half, but the Govs used a 18-4 run to pull within 35-33 at halftime.

Austin Peay built a pair of five-point leads early in the second half. But Southeast came back and then the contest turned into a thriller, with nine ties and 11 lead changes in the final period.

Southeast led 63-59 after two King free throws with 3:45 left. Stapleton scored four straight points for a 63-63 tie. The Indians held two more leads, at 65-63 and 67-65, before Stapleton's late dagger.

"He's an unbelievable player and you have to give him credit," said Scheer. "He stepped up and hit a big shot."


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