The Lincoln women's basketball team couldn't get over the hump.
But the Blue Tigers were always in striking distance, and that hasn't always been the case this season.
Lincoln pulled within four points in the final five minutes but Missouri Southern held off the Blue Tigers down the stretch and went on to claim a 60-52 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association win Saturday at Jason Gym.
"We're not playing great right now, but we're competing and that's something we weren't doing early," Lincoln head coach Nicole Collier said after the Blue Tigers' season finale.
Despite the outcome, Lincoln (5-20, 2-16) did make some strides since suffering an 86-62 loss to the Lions (18-7, 12-6) on Jan. 18.
"They beat us by 24 the last time we played them and we didn't even have a chance to compete in that game," Collier said. "I told the girls, if this team was to show up in December, the way they're playing now - obviously our season wouldn't be as bad.
"It took us all year long to reach this and that's the sad part."
The Blue Tigers pulled within four points with 4:26 to play following a layup by Nesha Wright, but that's as close as they would get.
Lincoln committed four turnovers in the final three minutes as Missouri Southern ended the contest on a 9-5 run to hand the Blue Tigers their second straight loss.
"The turnovers were definitely huge," Collier said. "It's just being careless with the ball. We've been like that all year long."
Jennifer Rosado finished with 14 points, six rebounds, and one steal to lead the Blue Tigers, who were 17-of-48 (35.4 percent) from the field and 4-of-12 (33 percent) from beyond the arc.
Quiessence Price finished with nine points, while Angela Randall and Nesha Wright both chipped in with seven.
Price is the only senior Lincoln will lose from what became a frustrating and injury-plagued season for the Blue Tigers, who are predominately made up of sophomores and juniors.
"I think they all learned a lot about each other as the year went along," Collier said. "That's what happens when you bring in nine new kids in a year. It takes a long time to figure out who's capable of doing what."
Missouri Southern controlled the tempo for the majority of the first half, leading by as many as 10 with 4:37 left before the break.
Lincoln didn't let it get any worse until the Lions took a 11-point lead - their largest of the day - with 1:06 left in the second half.
Lizzie Nessling scored five quick points to help bring the Blue Tigers within two with 1:46 left in the first half, but Missouri Southern was able to take a 34-29 halftime advantage.
The Lions maintained at least a two-point lead and led by as many as eight in the first 15 minutes of the second half before pulling away at the end.
"I felt like there were several situations that we had people in there that really weren't playmakers," Collier said. "I thought the different lineups we had in there hurt us. We just didn't have an opportunity to score at each position."
Sharese Jones scored a game-high 15 points, while Dominique Mosley added 14 to lead Missouri Southern, which was 20-of-46 (43.5 percent) from the field.
The Lions also claimed a 36-28 rebounding advantage to help their attack on the offensive end.
"I felt like we did a better job of limiting their offensive rebounds," said Collier, alluding to the fact Lincoln was out-rebounded 19-8 - 8-1 on the offensive glass in the first half. "We didn't do a great job, but they're more physical than us; they're bigger across the line."