Lincoln women hold on to beat Lindenwood
Originally published February 6, 2014 at 11:29 p.m., updated February 6, 2014 at 11:34 p.m.
The Lincoln women’s basketball team has put itself in a position to win on several occasions this season.
But the Blue Tigers have had trouble finishing down the stretch.
That wasn’t the case Thursday when Lincoln jumped out to a big lead and held off a late comeback to claim a 67-58 win against Lindenwood in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association contest at Jason Gym.
“I think it’s something that we’ve been teetering on for a while,” Lincoln coach Nicole Collier said. “We haven’t been able to get over the hump.”
The Blue Tigers, who placed four players in double figures, ended a 12-game losing streak and picked up their first MIAA win this season, while handing Lindenwood its seventh loss in nine games.
Jennifer Rosado scored a game-high 23 points to lead Lincoln, which was 25-of-57 (43.9 percent) from the field. Lizzie Nessling finished with 12 points, while Quiessence Price and Angela Randall both added 10 to help pace the Blue Tigers (4-16, 1-12 MIAA).
“I thought this was our overall best team effort,” Collier said. “Sometimes we have two, three people that get after it and the rest don’t. Tonight, I thought we were all after it.”
The Blue Tigers led by as many as 21 early in the second half, but Lindenwood (10-10, 5-8 MIAA) was able to come within five with 1:41 left to play.
“You can tell we get uncomfortable when people make runs,” Collier said. “As it gets later in games, we kind of start tightening up a little bit.”
Lincoln was able to finish the job this time.
Kate Frazier got a layup to fall in traffic and forced a steal on Lindenwood’s next possession to put the Blue Tigers up by seven with slightly more than a minute to play.
Following a missed free-throw attempt by the Blue Tigers, Price recorded her second block of the game and sank two from the line to give Lincoln a 65-56 lead with 47 seconds left.
The Lions got a quick bucket, but Rosado made both free throws to extend the Blue Tigers’ lead to nine and Lincoln was able to run out the clock from there.
“For us to fight through it, get over that hump, I think it’s only going to open the gates for us where we get a little more comfortable and a little more confident with what we’re doing,” Collier said.
Kassidy Gengerbacher scored 17 points — 15 in the second half — to lead Lindenwood, which was 20-of-57 (35.1 percent) from the field. Marissa Lehnig added 16 points, while Helias graduate Bre Zanders finished with 12 to help pace the Lions.
Lindenwood scored the first two points of the game, but Lincoln controlled the tempo for the next 18 minutes.
The Blue Tigers took their biggest lead in the first half when Nessling hit a 3-pointer to cap off a 12-3 run that gave Lincoln a 26-13 advantage with 3:50 left before halftime.
The Blue Tigers maintained at least a 10-point edge and added to it when Rosado knocked down a trey with 22 seconds left to give Lincoln a 35-22 lead entering the break.
“Our defense was really good,” Collier said. “I thought we really did a good job of knowing their personnel, knowing what they were wanting to do, and being able to take that away.”
The Blue Tigers didn’t slow up from there.
Lincoln opened the second half on a 10-2 run that was capped off by a 3-pointer by Nessling to give the Blue Tigers a 45-24 lead — their biggest of the night — with 15:10 remaining.
But Lindenwood didn’t go down without a fight.
The Lions used an 11-2 run to pull within 10 with 9:15 left to play and stayed within 14 points for the next three minutes.
“I felt like there were several times where we went into a panic-mode,” Collier said. “They would make a run, and then all of a sudden, it sped us up offensively and we were a little loose with the ball.”
Lindenwood used another 11-2 run to cut the deficit to five with 1:41 left, but that’s as close as the Lions would get.
Fatigue might have factored into that comeback as Lincoln had three players on the floor for 35 minutes or more.
“It’s one of those things where we have a lot of kids that worked hard on the offensive end and then it gets to the defensive end and they feel like that’s their time to take a break,” Collier said. “I think fatigue is definitely an issue.”
But the Blue Tigers, who have battled injuries throughout the season, aren’t using that as an excuse.
“If you look around the conference, all teams are playing eight kids, consistently,” Collier said. “I think we just have to figure out that they’re a lot of other teams doing what we’re doing. We just have to be mentally strong enough to push through it.”
Lincoln will look to build on its first win since Nov. 30 when the Blue Tigers host Northwest Missouri at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Jason Gym.
“We’ve got it documented on the board about what this month can mean to us,” Collier said. “We feel like this is our month.”
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