By RICHARD MARKEY
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
CANTON, Mo. -- It was only fitting that an offensive rebound and a deep 3-pointer highlighted the Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team's signature play Saturday.
After all, it was the 3-point shot that kept them in the game and forced overtime, while a barrage of offensive boards helped them seal a 88-75 Heart of America Athletic Conference victory over Baker at Charles Field House.
Trailing 64-61 with 19 seconds remaining, C-SC's Marshawn Norris dribbled up the right sideline and found Austin Keaton near the right corner for 3-point attempt that caromed long. Alen Hadzimahovic collected the offensive rebound on the left block, turned and found James Johnson open on the left wing. Johnson buried a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining to force overtime.
"I knew (the play) was either going to be for Austin or Marshawn," Johnson said after C-SC (14-3, 5-0 HAAC) moved into sole possession of first place in the league. "When they shot it, it came off and I saw the perfect opportunity to step in and knock it down."
For C-SC, it's something they expect from Johnson.
"We call him Big Game James because we always expect the big shot to come from James," Norris said. "So that's who we look for in those clutch moments like that."
It was the second wind they needed.
Culver-Stockton answered a Baker 3-pointer to open overtime by going a 15-0 run. Mario Gulley, who went 2 of 9 from the field in regulation, scored eight points in the run with six coming from offensive rebounds.
"That's just the game of basketball," Gulley said of his early shooting woes. "I know I missed shots, but that's the play behind. I leave that behind and just keep playing and go for the win."
C-SC coach Jack Schrader complemented Gulley, who finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
"He is great around the basket with offensive rebounds," Schrader said. "He had fresh legs, and these guys are just competitors from top to bottom. They realized they got a second chance, and they weren't going to let it slip away."
The comeback came when it looked as if Baker may run away with things after Corey Anderson capped a 13-3 run to stretch the lead to 57-50 with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining. However, the 3-pointer was the equalizer as C-SC hit four down the stretch to force overtime and another in the extra session.
Baker went 2 for 6 from the field with three turnovers in the final 6:30.
"I tell our guys not to settle. Don't settle for just a soft drive, and don't settle for a flat-footed three," said Schrader, whose team hit 13 of 38 3-point attempts. "I want our guys to shoot, because that's what they're good at, and you never know when they'll start knocking them down."
Baker coach Sean Dooley agreed.
"When you shoot as many (threes) as they do and have the talent that they have, the guys that can shoot that, they're going to make them," Dooley said.
For now, they'll continue to do that.
"Coach tells us that a big shot is going to kill us one day, when we need a big shot and don't hit it," Norris said. "But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."