LU men drop finale to Mo. Southern

It wasn’t the kind of year Lincoln men’s basketball coach John Redman was expecting.

And it wasn’t the way the Blue Tigers wanted to end their season.

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Josh Hall reports

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“Real disappointed,” Redmond said after Missouri Southern ran away Saturday with a 102-68 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association win against Lincoln at Jason Gym. “It hurts a little bit. It’s hard to be in this situation. I would have never believed three wins. It’s hard.”

The Lions (21-5, 15-4) proved why they are ranked No. 1 in scoring offense among MIAA teams, tallying 100 or more points for the eighth time this season.

It was also just the third time Lincoln (3-24, 1-18) let a team surpass the century mark.

“If you give them open shots, they’re going to knock them down,” Redmond said “You can’t afford to do that and that’s what we did.

“I don’t think the kids played bad, I just think they were out-manned. This was one of those nights where you could really see the difference in talent on the floor. They were more talented than we were.”

Five players scored in double figures for Missouri Southern, which was 37-of-65 (56.9 percent) from the field, including 10-of-17 from behind the arc, and 18-of-26 from the free-throw line.

The Blue Tigers didn’t exactly have an off-night on the offensive end, but it didn’t compare to what Missouri Southern was able to put together.

Joshua Buie scored 14 points to lead four Lincoln players in double figures. James Edmond finished with 13, while Mike Smith and Robert Hopkins each added 11 to help pace the Blue Tigers, who were 28-of-74 (37.8 percent) from the field and just 5-of-9 from the free-throw line.

“They gave me 100 percent,” Redmond said. “I think they played hard. When you play hard and just get beat like that… it’s hard.”

Missouri Southern led by six early in the first half, but Buie capped off an 8-2 run to tie the game at 14 with 13:08 remaining before halftime.

That’s when the wheels fell off.

Missouri Southern closed out the half on a 41-13 surge to take a 55-27 advantage entering the locker room and the Lions were able to cruise from there.

“They took off with that spurt and we didn’t match it,” Redmond said. “They could get it done and we couldn’t. That’s all it comes down to.”

The Blue Tigers cut their deficit to 24 with 16:54 left in the second half, but Missouri Southern extended their lead to 31 in the next six minutes, putting a halt to any momentum Lincoln might have had left.

“We didn’t do some things right fundamentally, but when you get in a hole like we did it’s hard to think about fundamental things,” Redmond said. “We came out, we pressed, we trapped, we tried to do some things that I believe, if it would have been a little closer at half, it might have been a little different story. But when you get back that much, it’s hard to battle back — especially when you’re trading baskets.”

That’s exactly what Lincoln did until late in the second half. By then it didn’t matter.

Hopkins and Edmond hit back-to-back 3s to cap off a 10-3 run to make it 89-68 with 3:39 to play, but the Lions ended the game on a 13-0 surge.

Austin Wright came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points after going 5-of-7 from beyond the arc to lead Missouri Southern. Slim Magee and Marquis Addison both finished with 16 points, while Jordan Talbert added 13 and Land Barlow chipped in with 12.

Prior to the game, Lincoln recognized seniors Mario Bass, Charles Cole and Edmond, each playing for the final time as a Lincoln athlete.

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