Ten days after losing on a shot in the last five seconds, the SIU men’s basketball team experienced the other side in its win at Creighton University.
With 13 seconds to go in the game the Salukis called a timeout trailing 57-56. Head Coach Chris Lowery drew up a play designed to stretch the defense and allow sophomore guard Bryan Mullins to make a decision with the ball.
The play was a double screen, with freshman guard Joshua Bone and junior forward Randal Falker setting the picks and senior guards Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young setting up in the corners.
However, the play didn’t go as planned and Mullins was forced to make a play. He hit the game winning shot with 4.1 seconds remaining in the game and SIU won, 58-57.
“They stayed home on Josh, JT and Tony Young and we told Randal to slip,” Lowery said in a postgame radio interview. “When Randal slipped, everybody from the other side ran to Randal and Bryan just made a play.
“That’s what he’s supposed to do. When you draw stuff up and things don’t go your way, you got to have kids willing to step up and make plays.”
Mullins had a strong all-around game, recording six points, seven assists and two steals in 35 minutes.
He was also the Saluki defending Bluejays senior guard Nate Funk. Although Funk finished the game with 18 points, he only scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the first half.
“He’s a great player and he’s going to get his points,” Mullins said in a postgame radio interview. “You can’t really just stop him, you just try to frustrate him.”
Creighton called a timeout after Mullins’ late basket with a chance to pull out a win. Funk took the final shot of the game, a three-pointer that rattled in and out of the rim.
“I don’t know how he did that but if it went in, it’d be a sad plane ride home,” Mullins said.
Lowery said he thought Funk’s shot would go in, which would have handed SIU another painful loss, which would have been its second in 10 days.
In the Salukis’ Jan. 10 loss to Bradley University, Braves senior guard Will Franklin hit a shot similar to Mullins’ game winner Saturday.
Mullins, though, said he wasn’t the only Saluki to come up big against Creighton. Junior forward Randal Falker had 21 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
“He had a Sportscenter dunk and he was all over the place,” Mullins said. “They couldn’t guard him.”
Falker and Mullins combined for 21 of the Salukis’ 30 second half points, and Mullins was scoreless in the first.
“I had a couple real good looks in the first half that didn’t really fall,” Mullins said. “I didn’t have a great night shooting the ball but I made a couple shots down the stretch. Everybody picked it up too and made some big plays.”