Southwest Baptist surges over Lincoln

Many of the shortcomings that have plagued the Lincoln’s men’s basketball team all season were apparent once again.

And it came at a time when the Blue Tigers needed to be perfect to have a shot at keeping their postseason hopes alive.

Lincoln hung around for awhile, but were eventually outmatched as Southwest Baptist rolled to a 98-69 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association win on Saturday at Jason Gym.

“The first part of the game we were doing fine,” Lincoln coach John Redmond said. “I think we stopped following the game plan. I think it comes down to execution and buying in and believing in what we’re doing. We start out doing the right things, but when it’s crunch time, we change.”

Despite coming into Saturday’s matchup with one conference win, the Blue Tigers (3-21, 1-15) still had an outside chance of reaching the MIAA Tournament.

They needed to get past Southwest Baptist first.

Jaywuan Hill and the Bearcats (13-11, 6-9) had different plans.

Hill led six players in double figures with 19 points and Southwest Baptist broke open a one-possession game late in the first half to spoil Lincoln’s hopes of a postseason run.

“When we were playing in position, defensively, we were getting easy baskets — we were getting baskets out of our defense,” Redmond said. “The minute we stopped playing defense, things changed and the basket started getting a little bit bigger.”

Southwest Baptist jumped out to a 26-16 lead midway through the first half, but Lincoln senior Mario Bass hit back-to-back jumpers to cap a 10-3 run to bring the Blue Tigers within three with 6:41 left before the break.

That’s when the wheels fell off.

The Bearcats responded with a 22-6 surge over the next five minutes to take a 19-point advantage before entering the locker room with a 53-39 lead.

“At first we were guarding shooters, we were doing the right thing,” Redmond said. “When we stopped doing what we were asked to do, we got into trouble. Once they started that spurt and they got out, the game got easier for them and it got more difficult for us.”

The Bearcats maintained at least a 12-point lead in the first seven minutes of the second half, but they didn’t stop there.

Desi Barmore capped a 19-4 run with a put-back to give Southwest Baptist a 85-57 lead with 9:37 to play and the Bearcats cruised from there.

“We stopped rotating and communicating and being in the right spots,” Redmond said. “Several times we left 3-point shooters wide open. Early in the game, we were communicating and not leaving those shooters open. That was one of the main things I stressed is, we’re not going to allow them to come in here and shoot well.”

Southwest Baptist, ranked third in the MIAA in scoring offense, was 36-of-65 (55 percent) from the field and 9-of-21 (42 percent) from 3-point range.

Six players tallied at least 11 points for the Bearcats, who also claimed a 49-34 rebounding advantage.

“They passed the ball very well,” Redmond said. “Unlike us, they would make the next pass. Everybody got a piece of that rock. They felt good about themselves. When you feel good like that, you do all the right things — you play good team defense, you rebound well.”

Joshua Buie scored a game-high 22 points to lead three Lincoln players in double figures. James Edmond added 16 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, while Dimitrije Gudovski added 12 points and seven boards to help pace the Blue Tigers, who were 27-of-73 (37 percent) from the field, 3-of-18 from behind the arc, and just 12-of-23 from the charity stripe.

Lincoln will host Missouri Western at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, before traveling to Lindenwood on Feb. 22. The Blue Tigers will then close out the season at home against Missouri Southern on March 1.

“We don’t want to end the season on a negative note,” Redmond said. “It’s about pride and growth right now.”

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