MARYVILLE — The Lincoln Blue Tigers rallied late before falling 85-78 to the Northwest Missouri Bearcats in their MIAA men's basketball opener Thursday night.
A 3-pointer by Ryan Welty of the Bearcats with :22 remaining in the first half gave Northwest Missouri, ranked No. 2 in Division II, a 40-37 advantage at the half.
The Bearcats began to pull away in the second half, using a 17-3 run to take a 59-44 advantage with about 10 minutes to play.
The Blue Tigers trailed 73-62 with a little more than three minutes to play before clawing back into it. Consecutive 3-pointers by Amariontez Ivory and Terrance Smith pulled Lincoln to within five at 73-68 with 2:58 remaining.
Lincoln got to within four at 80-76 on a pair of Smith free throws with :35 remaining. Jonell Burton's layup for Lincoln with :17 left answered a pair of Northwest Missouri State free throws to make it 82-78. But the Blue Tigers were forced to foul and the Bearcats hit 3-of-4 free throws to close out the victory.
Smith recorded his third consecutive double-double for Lincoln, totaling 22 points and 10 rebounds. Ivory added 16 points, while Ni'Sean Rigmaiden chipped in with 12 points while dishing out six assists. Burton and Grant Olsson both finished with 11 points as the Blue Tigers had five players finish in double figures.
The 78 points are the most scored this season against Northwest Missouri (9-0 overall, 1-0 MIAA).
Trevor Hudgins led five Bearcats in double figures with 22 points.
Lincoln (4-3, 0-1) will play Saturday afternoon at Missouri Western. Game time is 4 p.m.