The Lincoln men's and women's basketball teams still have a chance to make the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament.
That's why the last four games of the regular season are so important for both programs.
The final stretch starts today when the Lincoln women (4-18, 1-14) take on Southwest Baptist (9-12, 4-10) at 1:30 p.m. before the Blue Tiger men (3-20, 1-14) square off against the Bearcats (12-11, 5-9) at 3:30 p.m. at Jason Gym.
The Blue Tiger men and women will likely have to win the remainder of their games and get a little help from other opponents in the MIAA to qualify as one of the 12 teams invited to the league tournament.
The Lincoln women, who suffered a 66-58 loss Jan. 25 against the Bearcats in Bolivar, are looking to end a two-game skid after falling to Central Missouri by 33 points Wednesday.
The Blue Tigers will need to respond in a big way against a Southwest Baptist team that has struggled on the road this season.
With four league wins, the Bearcats are in a three-way tie with Missouri Western and Nebraska-Kearney for one of the two final tournament berths, while Lincoln remains three games back in the league standings.
The Bearcats, who are ranked 8th in the MIAA in scoring offense (71.7 ppg) and 13th in scoring defense (71.5), are 0-8 in road games this season and enter today's matchup on a three-game losing streak.
Brook Duncan leads Southwest Baptist with 14.5 points per game, while Jacqui Zelenka (13.5 ppg) and Mackenzie Skupa (9.2 ppg) help pace the Bearcats offensively.
Jennifer Rosado has continued to lead a Lincoln offense ranked last in the league in scoring offense (58.3 ppg) and is 11th in scoring defense (69.7 ppg). The junior guard averages 13.9 points per game and has tallied 12 straight double-digit performances, including five games with at least 20 points.
In 15 starts this season, freshman guard Hunter Yoakum is next on the scoring chart with 10.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Angela Randall averages 9.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and leads the Blue Tigers in assists (2.5) and steals (43).
Every game is equally important for the Blue Tiger men, who are three games back of Missouri Western for the 12th and final spot in the MIAA Tournament.
Lincoln's test starts today when the Blue Tigers face Southwest Baptist, which has won four of its last six games.
Lincoln suffered a 101-70 loss Jan. 25 to the Bearcats and are coming off a 92-50 loss Wednesday at Central Missouri.
Desi Barmore leads Southwest Baptist with 16.8 points per game, while Rashaad Brown-Peterson (16.3 ppg), and Derrick Stewart (10.6 ppg) help pace the Bearcats, who are ranked third in the MIAA in scoring offense (84.6 ppg) and are 13th in scoring defense (82.5 ppg).
Mike Smith (16.2 ppg) and Joshua Buie (15.8 ppg) lead Lincoln, which is ranked last in scoring offense (73.5 ppg) and scoring defense (88.9 ppg).
Following today's contest, Lincoln will host Missouri Western before traveling to Lindenwood on Feb. 22. The Blue Tigers will close out the regular season with a home game March 1 against Missouri Southern.