PERKINSTON, Miss. (MGCCC Athletics) - Mississippi Gulf Coast has been on the losing end of four last-minute defeats in 2021, including a heartbreaking 3-pointer at the buzzer to lose at Southwest the first time the teams met.
Monday night, the Bulldogs (6-7, 4-7 MACCC South) made a play and finally got a break. Melvion Flanagan’s acrobatic layup in the lane with 45.7 seconds left stood up for a 69-67 win at the Weathers-Wentzell Center.
“They’ve been fighters this whole year,” Gulf Coast coach Tim Ryan said. “We finally got a close win. The ball finally bounced our way tonight. We had too many games where the ball didn’t bounce our way at the end of the game. They’re fighters, but I didn’t need them to prove that tonight. They’ve proved it all year long.”
The two leading Gulf Coast scorers on the night hooked up for the game-winner. Carr Thiam (Fr., Tampa Fla./Wharton), who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, penetrated into the lane from the right wing.
“I was just thinking we need a score to win the game,” he said. “I was going to pull up, and I saw Mel cross.”
With Thiam at the free-throw line, Flanagan (Fr., Alexandria La./Peabody) went backdoor on his ball-watching man, took a pass from just below the elbow and slashed across two Bears defenders for his final bucket of a 27-point night.
“I saw Carr had stopped and didn’t have anywhere to go,” Flanagan said. “I just had to make a play and cut and score the ball for my team to win.”
Southwest (7-7, 6-6 MACCC South), which has lost five straight, had two 3-point attempts down the stretch but neither went in. In Summit, they hit one at the buzzer to win 76-74.
Playing without leading rebounder Anthony Ratliff, the shorthanded Bulldogs rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 150 seconds by scoring the final eight points.
Dontavius Proby (So., Biloxi/Biloxi), who finished with nine points and three assists, nailed a corner-3 with 2:25 to play. Thiam made a bucket and converted the old-fashioned 3-point play with a free throw with 1:41 left.
Southwest missed a 3 with 1:12 to play and Dillon Farmer (Fr., Conehatta/Choctaw Central) secured a huge rebound to set up the final play.
Rodrique Massenat (So., Trenton N.J./Trenton Catholic) had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
“We’ve got a big piece missing with Champ (Ratliff),” Thiam said. “He rebounds the ball well, but we won the rebounding battle tonight. We played hard and played as a team. We finished the game out strong, because we knew it was going to be a dogfight.”
Gulf Coast takes on Hinds at Perk on Monday. Tipoff is at 6 p.m., and the Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a 92-89 overtime loss exactly one week previous.
Ryan hopes Monday’s result buoys the team.