Lincoln travels to face Southwest Baptist

BOLIVAR, Mo. — The Lincoln women can do a lot for its postseason hopes with a victory today.

The Blue Tigers travel to take on Southwest Baptist for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.

Lincoln sits in the 12th and final playoff spot for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament with four games to play.

The Blue Tigers (9-13, 4-10 MIAA) sit a half-game behind today’s opponent. A win for Lincoln would secure a season sweep against Southwest Baptist (10-13, 5-10 MIAA), meaning the Blue Tigers would hold the coveted tiebreaker. Lincoln topped SBU 77-65 on Jan. 5 at Jason Gym.

Nebraska Kearney sits a game behind Lincoln at 3-11, and the Lopers hold the tiebreaker with the one head-to-head win.

Lincoln will need a big effort from its star if the Blue Tigers hope to snap a four-game losing streak on the fourth game of a road trip. That star would be Arriana Walker, who leads the Blue Tigers in points (14), assists (4.6) and steals (3.3) per game. She is also third on the team with 5.3 rebounds per game.

Freddie Sims (13.6 ppg) and Dahlia Booker (11.5 ppg) look to provide additional scoring punch.

Southwest Baptist counters with Jacqui Zelenka’s 13.2 points and 10 rebounds per contest. Chasity Prince adds 12.1 points and Brittney Dukes tosses in 11 and dishes out a team-high 2.9 assists.

III

It’s becoming win-or-go home time for the Lincoln men.

With just four games left before season’s end, the Blue Tigers sit three games out of the 12th and final playoff spot as they travel to Southwest Baptist today for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

Lincoln sits in 15th and last place in the MIAA at 3-21 overall and 2-12 in the conference. The Blue Tigers get a break considering Lindenwood (9-6 MIAA) is ineligible for postseason play with the Lions being in their final year transitioning to the NCAA Division II level.

Lincoln needs to surpass Nebraska Kearney (3-11 MIAA) and either Truman State or Missouri Western, who are both 5-9 in league play, to qualify for the MIAA Tournament. While that seems extremely unlikely, the Blue Tigers are still mathematically alive.

A win is a must tonight for Lincoln. A lot of the pressure falls on the shoulders of Cedric Ridle Jr., the MIAA’s leading scorer at 19.9 points per game. The senior has one last chance to play in the postseason.

Ridle’s teammates need to pick up the slack to carry their senior leader to the playoffs. Charles Cole remains the only other Blue Tiger in double figures at 14.8 points, and also nabs a team-high seven rebounds a night.

Southwest Baptist (8-15, 6-9 MIAA) is led by Damion Hooks, a guard who averages 14.1 points a game. Preston Guiot (11.6 ppg) scores primarily from behind the 3-point line, as he as hit 56-of-171 (32.7 percent) from long range. While he has scored 168 points from beyond the arc, Guiot has just 99 points to his name from free throws and 2-point baskets. Gilbert Gyamfi adds 10.4 points and a team-high 3.9 rebounds.

Lincoln dropped the teams’ first meeting 81-74 on Jan. 5 at Jason Gym.

Following tonight’s games, Lincoln returns home for a doubleheader Saturday against Truman State at Jason Gym.

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