By BRYAN GIBBONS
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
CANTON, Mo. -- The Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team gave MidAmerica Nazarene every opportunity to steal a Heart of America Athletic Conference victory.
In the end, though, the Wildcats squashed the Pioneers' best opportunity of all.
Trailing by one point with five-tenths of a second left, No. 25-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene had the ball under its own basket. However, C-SC's CJ Adams knocked the inbounds pass away to secure an 89-88 victory Saturday afternoon at Charles Field House.
"We played hard for 40 minutes and deserved to win," C-SC coach Jack Schrader said.
The victory ended the Wildcats' three-game losing streak and kept them in the HAAC race. C-SC (15-6, 6-3 HAAC) now trails MidAmerica Nazarene (15-6, 7-2) by just one game in the HAAC standings.
"We take the schedule one game at a time," Schrader said. "Only losers think about losing streaks."
It certainly wasn't on the mind of the Wildcats in the second half.
After the Pioneers scored the first four points of the half to take a 47-45 lead, the Wildcats' Jermaine Jones threw down a dunk off an alley-oop from Marshawn Norris to kickstart a 9-0 run. It became an 18-8 spurt that put C-SC ahead 74-59 with 11 minutes remaining.
However, MidAmerica Nazarene whittled the deficit down to 85-83 with 2:56 remaining.
An Austin Keaton layup and two free throws by Norris pushed the lead to 89-83 with 55 seconds left. However, the Pioneers wouldn't die. After a short jumper by MidAmerica Nazarene's Jacob French, Norris missed the front end of a 1-and-1. That led to a 3-pointer by the Pioneers' Rustin Dowd with 13 seconds left.
MidAmerica Nazarene immediately fouled Keaton, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving the Pioneers a chance to win.
Dowd missed a jumper from the right baseline, and MidAmerica Nazarene's Luke Thomas grabbed the offensive rebound. However, C-SC knocked the ball loose and out of bounds.
Adams then knocked the inbounds pass away to save the day.
Norris led C-SC with 25 points, while Mario Gulley scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half.