Men's College Basketball

Johnson's buzzer-beater allows Wildcats to upset Bobcats

By SHANE HULSEY
Sports Writer | 217-221-3366
mschuckman@whig.com | @SchuckWHIG
Posted: Feb. 9, 2019 10:05 pm Updated: Feb. 10, 2019 1:41 am

CANTON, Mo. -- Game. Over.

Mike Johnson hit a fadeaway jumper from the free-throw line as time expired to lift the Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team to a 77-75 victory over No. 11 Peru State in Saturday's Heart of America Athletic Conference game at Charles Field House.

Wildcats coach Aaron Hill said this was the first out-of-bounds play he had drawn up all year, and it wasn't a very complicated one.

"Just get the ball to the best player on the floor," he said. "Like, ‘You're good. Go get us a shot.' That's it."

With 4.8 seconds left, Mason Vires inbounded the ball to Johnson on the left wing. Johnson started his drive with three seconds left and the Bobcats' Jamil Maddred on his left hip. Peru State's Tyrone Carey Jr. stepped in from Johnson's right to help.

Johnson planted his left foot right in front of Carey at the free-throw line, stepped back and let the shot go with one second left and Maddred's hand inches from his face. The ball fell through the net just as the buzzer went off, giving the Wildcats their third win this season over a nationally ranked team.

The crowd stormed the court, mobbing the Wildcats and leaving Johnson to fend for himself at the bottom of the pile.

"I was just worried about being under all those people," Johnson said with a chuckle. "I was like, ‘Ohhh man! This is getting heavy!'"

With the Wildcats trailing 75-74, Carey fouled C-SC's Jeremiah Jackson as he drove down the baseline from the left corner, sending Jackson to the line for a 1-and-1. He made the first free throw to tie it at 75, then missed the second. Brandon Jones got the rebound for Peru State and tried to drive up the right sideline. Jackson applied pressure and forced Jones to get whistled for a carry, giving the ball back to Culver-Stockton and setting up Johnson's game-winner.

He shrugged off missing a similar shot moments earlier.

With 35 seconds left and the Wildcats down 75-72, Johnson missed a wide-open jumper along the baseline. The ball bounced off the opposite side of the rim, and Cullen Smith grabbed the rebound and layed it up in traffic to bring the Wildcats within one.

"As a rebounder, you're thinking to yourself that the rebound is going to bounce to the opposite side (from where the shot is taken)," Smith said. "I guessed right, caught it, took my time, made a pump fake, and just went up strong and finished."

"I make those types of shots all the time," Johnson said of the baseline jumper he missed on that play. "I was so wide open, I was like, ‘Holy cow!' To know I have a player like Cullen that has my back to finish the play that I should have made, that's all I can ask for."

Johnson went on a 9-0 run by himself over a 1:30 span beginning with 8:24 left, making 3-pointers on three straight possessions to give C-SC a five-point lead. Peru State's Lyle Hexom answered with a 9-0 run of his own, making three 3-pointers in a 1:10 span to give the Bobcats a 71-66 lead with 4:53 left.

"That was pretty fun to watch," he said. "As a coach, you kind of say ‘Wow' about your guy and tip your cap to the other guy."

The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run over the final 3:44, forcing the Bobcats to miss four straight shots and commit a pair of turnovers.

Johnson led the Wildcats (14-12, 10-10 Heart) with 24 points, including 20 in the second half and 15 in the final 8:24. Smith had 18 points and seven rebounds. Vires had 15 points, and Bryson London had 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Culver-Stockton 77, Peru State 75

PERU STATE (17-6, 12-5)

Hexom 13-19 3-6 33, Jones 8-13 3-5 19, Maddred 5-12 2-3 12, Wilson 1-7 0-0 3, McReynolds 1-4 1-2 3, Wurm 1-3 0-0 3, Carey Jr. 1-4 0-0 2, Moore Jr. 0-1 0-0 0, Wardy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-63 9-16 75.

CULVER-STOCKTON (14-12, 10-10)

Johnson 8-19 4-4 24, Smith 7-9 4-5 18, Vires 5-9 3-4 15, London 4-9 2-2 13, Green 1-1 2-2 4, Jackson 1-5 1-2 3, Newby 0-6 0-0 0, Cosby 0-0 0-0 0, Happel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 16-19 77.

Halftime score--Peru State 37, Culver-Stockton 33. 3-point field goals--Peru State 6-23 (Hexom 4-7, Wilson 1-3, Wurm 1-3, Maddred 0-5, McReynolds 0-2, Carey Jr. 0-2, Jones 0-1, Culver-Stockton 9-24 (Johnson 4-12, London 3-4, Vires 2-3, Newby 0-4, Jackson 0-1. Rebounds--Peru State 38 (Hexom 11), Culver-Stockton 32 (London 8). Assists--Peru State 10 (Hexom 3), Culver-Stockton 15 (Johnson 4, Jackson 4). Steals--Peru State 6 (Maddred 2, Jones 2, Wurm 2), Culver-Stockton 7 (Johnson 2, Jackson 2). Blocked shots--Peru State 4 (Hexom 3), Culver-Stockton 1 (Green). Turnovers--Peru State 12, Culver-Stockton 15. Fouls--Peru State 16, Culver-Stockton 12. Fouled out--None.