BOLIVAR, Mo. — Troy Pierce hit two free throws with 5.2 seconds left to give Emporia State a 71-70 win against No. 11 Central Oklahoma at the SBU Thanksgiving Classic.
There were two ties and five lead changes in the first 7:33 before Taylor Euler hit a three pointer to ignite an 8-0 run to give the Hornets a 19-12 lead with 10:42 left in the half. A 10-0 run capped by another three from Euler, gave Emporia State their biggest lead of the night at 31-17 with 4:35 left before heading to the locker room with a 40-31 lead.
Central Oklahoma opened the second half with a 9-2 run to pull within 42-40 with 17:52 left on Josh Davis’ jumper. Emporia State responded with a 7-0 run of their own to go back up by nine at 49-40 with 15:47 left on a pair of Antonio DiMaria free throws. Central Oklahoma would get their first lead of the second half at 53-51 with 12:13 remaining on two free throws by Brent Friday to cap another 9-0 run. Travis Dykman hit his only shot of the night, a three pointer with 5:43 left, to give Emporia State a 62-57 lead at the end of an 11-4 run.
The final five minutes was back and forth with three ties and six lead changes. Central Oklahoma’s Tyler Phillips tied it at 62-62 on a put back with 4:20 left. After a Justin Ikhide free throw, Davis gave the Bronchos a 65-63 lead with a three pointer at the 3:33 mark. Chris Sights answered for Emporia State with 2:50 left on a three of his own for a 66-65 Hornet lead. Phillips hit another trey to make it 68-66 Central Oklahoma with 2:32 remaining. Derrell Conner gave Emporia State the lead back with a three pointer with 1:21 left. Johnny Stephene hit a pair of free throws with 12.3 seconds left to give Central Oklahoma their final lead at 70-69. The Bronchos had a foul to give with 8.1 seconds left and Emporia State called a timeout after the foul. Pierce then got the ball in the lane and was fouled by Josh Davis with 5.2 seconds left. He hit both free throws to reach double figures and move Emporia State to 3-1 on the season.
The Hornets shot .511 from the field, including a 10-of-20 performance from the three point line, while holding the Bronchos to just .439 shooting from the field.
Sights led Emporia State with 16 points while DiMaria added 15 points. Pierce had 11 points and a team high six rebounds while Conner rounded out the double figure scorers for ESU with ten points. Euler had eight points with team highs of four assists and three steals. Brent Friday led Central Oklahoma with 18 points.