The Lincoln women's basketball team knew Emporia State would be a tough matchup.
And despite hanging with the Hornets for the first 10 minutes on Saturday, Emporia State proved why it is the No. 3 team in the country.
After a slow start, the Hornets put together a strong run midway through the first half and went on to claim a 74-49 victory against Lincoln in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association game at Jason Gym.
"I knew we were going to have to put together the best game possible that we've played all year to compete," Lincoln coach Nicole Collier said. "They're the No. 3 team in the nation. There are only two other teams better than them. I've watched film of them embarrass teams by 30-plus points."
The early going seemed to be going well for the Blue Tigers (3-9, 0-5 MIAA).
Lincoln and Emporia State (13-0, 4-0) traded leads seven times in the first six minutes of the game and Jennifer Rosado hit a 3-pointer to give the Blue Tigers a 9-7 advantage with 13:27 left in the first half.
Then the wheels fell off.
Emporia State ended the first half on a 29-6 run to take a 36-15 lead into the locker room and the Blue Tigers didn't get another field goal until Hunter Yoakum knocked down a trey with 18:23 left in the second half.
By that time, the Blue Tigers found themselves trailing 40-18. And it would be an uphill battle from there.
"Right now we've acknowledged that we have lulls in our game," Collier said. "We had about a 10-minute lull in the first half, to end the half, that we have tried to recover from.
"That last 10 minutes in the first half really killed us."
Lincoln was 4-of-20 from the field, committed 14 turnovers and was outrebounded 26-14 in the first half. Emporia State was 15-of-36 from the field during that stretch.
"We had a horrific shooting night," Collier said. "I couldn't have given them easier looks around the rim. We just struggled offensively tonight. We had some wide-open looks that we just blew.
"I didn't think defensively they weren't dictating what we were going to do. I felt like we killed ourselves."
The Hornets, who were averaging 79.2 points per game, didn't slow down. Emporia State had a 61-28 lead with just more than eight minutes to play, but the Blue Tigers were able to put together an 18-5 run to cut their deficit to 20 with just less than five minutes to play.
Collier was happy the Blue Tigers didn't throw in the towel down the stretch.
"I told the girls, "Emporia is not going to change the way they attack us. They don't care if we're down 20 or if we're down 50. They're going to keep attacking us; they're going to try to bury us. That's just what good teams do,'" Collier said. "For us to make a run like that, it showed that we have the capability, we have the talent -we just have to bring it every night. I think that's something we're struggling with."
Rosado scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Blue Tigers, who were 10-of-43 (23.3 percent) from the field and 27-of-34 (79.4 percent) from the free-throw line.
Emporia State, which shot 28-of-65 (43 percent) from the floor and claimed a 52-29 rebounding advantage over the Blue Tigers, placed four players in double figures.
"I think you can tell that depth was an issue," Collier said. "They have a lot more bodies and they have a lot bigger bodies. They're a lot bigger team than us physically and also depth-wise."