ABILENE, Texas – Alfred Perez scored a game-high 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting, but it wasn't enough as Angelo State University squeezed past McMurry University, 73-70, Friday evening at Kimbrell Arena.
Trailing 72-70 with 3.4 seconds remaining in the second half, the War Hawks had possession of the basketball and the opportunity to tie, or win the game. ASU All-American candidate Kenny Williams' six-foot-seven wingspan draped over Connor Robinson on the inbound pass. Unable to find an opening, Robinson attempted to bounce the ball off Williams' leg and out of bounds.
However, the St.Louis, Mo. native grabbed the rock and forced a foul with less than a second remaining to ice the game.
"Right there we ran a play that we've been setting up all season," McM head coach Clif Carroll said following the game. "We just didn't execute the pass. We had a wide-open look on the backside, but we weren't able to finish."
The War Hawks stared the first half hot, and Perez's layup at 14:38 made it 12-4. The Rams (7-0) countered with a 16-8 run and tied it at 20-20 with five minutes remaining in the first stanza.
McM kept its composure and closed out the first half on a strong note. Perez (Spring, Texas/Klein Collins HS) hit a layup as time expired to give the War Hawks a 34-28 halftime lead.
The Rams ran out of the gate in the second half with a 20-8 run and seized a 48-42 lead with 12 minutes remaining in regulation.
Both squads traded blows down the stretch and Brandon Golden (Austin, Texas/Coastal Bend College) converted a pair of free throws with 56 seconds remaining, which brought the War Hawks to within 72-70.
Former head coach Chris Beard made his return to McMurry for the first time since accepting the head job at Angelo State last spring.
Carroll and Beard are longtime friends and were on the same staff at Texas Tech University.
"I think Bob Knight would have been really proud to watch this game," Carroll said. "It's hard playing your friend because someone's going to lose. It's not fun – but it happens."
Kortney Goff (Rochester, N.Y./Southern Illinois University) added 16 points and Golden chipped in 15 points – and was 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.
Bryan Hammond led the Rams with 15 points and Williams added 10 points and a team-high six rebounds.
McM (3-1) returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. and play host to Bacone College.