Redmond disappointed with starters as Lincoln falls to Pittsburg State

John Redmond challenged his upperclassmen to play with more effort at halftime.

When they didn’t respond, the Lincoln men’s basketball coach decided to make a change.

Pittsburg State used a 10-0 run late in the first half to pull away from the Blue Tigers and went on to claim an 87-72 win in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association game Monday night at Jason Gym.

“I told the upperclassmen at halftime, I’m going to give them a few minutes and if they don’t look like they want to play, I’m just going to go with our young kids,” Redmond said. “That’s what I did. They need to get experience.”

The thought of changing things up came when Pittsburg State (5-5, 1-2 MIAA) outscored Lincoln 19-7 in the final seven minutes of the first half to take a 41-29 lead into the break.

“(Pittsburg State) goes on a run because we stopped playing defense,” Redmond said. “At that point, I made a decision — I’m not watching the upperclassmen do that anymore.”

Redmond hopes the moves will motivate his upperclassmen, who combined to play 113 of the 200 available minutes.

“My point of doing it is to see if I can get some fire in them,” Redmond said. “Yelling at them isn’t working. The best thing is seeing if sitting on the sideline with me will work. Maybe they’ll get motivated to play and do what they need to.”

The Blue Tigers (2-12, 0-6 MIAA) got 29 points from their bench, but Redmond was more impressed with the overall effort he saw from his youngsters in the second half.

“We had three or four freshmen on the floor and they played their heart out,” Redmond said. “If we’re going to lose, we might as well lose with kids with effort. I love what I’m seeing from my freshmen. I think the effort they’re giving us is better.”

Pittsburg State, which was 26-of-45 (57.8 percent) from the field, jumped out to a 20-9 lead with 11:33 left in the first half.

The Blue Tigers quickly responded by tying the game at 22 with 7:09 remaining in the period, but it was an uphill battle for Lincoln from there.

“We got in a hole and we kept fighting back, fighting back,” Redmond said. “You can’t continue to do that and have success. That’s just what we did. We got in a hole and it was hard to come out.”

Pittsburg State took a 68-50 lead — its biggest of the night — with 8:57 left in the second quarter and the Gorillas were able to control the tempo the rest of the way.

Lincoln freshman Robert Hopkins hit a 3-pointer with 1:53 left in the game to bring the Blue Tigers within nine, but that’s as close as they would get.

Mike Smith scored a game-high 18 points after seeing just 23 minutes of action to lead Lincoln, which was 25-of-65 (38.5 percent) from the field. Mario Bass added 10 points and Hopkins finished with 10 points off the bench for the Blue Tigers, who claimed a 38-28 rebounding advantage.

“If we play up-tempo and get stops, we get better offensive production,” Redmond said. “I think the key for us is our defense generates what we do offensively. When we do a good job defensively, it shows in the box score. Every time we shoot well, I guarantee we’re playing good defense.”

Lincoln returns to action at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Fort Hays State.

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