Despite never leading, the Lincoln women's basketball team thought its nine-game losing streak may finally come to an end Thursday night against Missouri Western.
"We felt pretty good coming in," Lincoln coach Ayana McWilliams said.
And it was looking good when the Blue Tigers pulled within three points three different times in the fourth quarter. But the team that could hardly miss in the first half, found it difficult to make the easy ones in the second half in a 68-59 loss at Jason Gym.
"We've got to make free throws and layups," McWilliams said. "Free throws and layups. You make free throws down the stretch it's a whole different ballgame."
Lincoln went 1-of-2 at the line twice and missed a pair during another trip to the line in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Tigers closed out the third quarter on a 6-0 run. Zhanesha Dickerson capped off the quarter by beating a double team underneath the basket with less than two seconds on the clock to pull within 46-40.
Dickerson then had a three-point play to make it a three-point game a minute into the fourth quarter.
"You've definitely got to keep feeding the beast," McWilliams said of Dickerson, who had 21 points and seven rebounds.
It was 54-51 after a Zoi Thompson free throw and 60-57 when Thompson maneuvered around a defender for a layup with 2:35 left.
But Lincoln was off target on its next seven shots, not scoring again until a Kaloni Pryear layup with :10 left. Pryear was one of three Blue Tigers in double figures with 15 points. Bre Coleman added 10 points.
"We had a lot of momentum going into the fourth and we just couldn't get anything to go in," McWilliams said. "It's one of those things. You've got to take care of the things you can control."
Lincoln went to Coleman early as she scored six points in the first quarter. But Lincoln trailed 23-14 because of a 13-2 start for the Griffons.
Katrina Roenfeldt, who entered the game fourth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in scoring with 16.0 points per game, scored 11 of her 15 points in the first four minutes of the game. Nine of those points came from beyond the arc.
"We don't want to let her shoot them and we let her start the game off 3-for-3," McWilliams said.
Lincoln also got burned throughout the game by Jessica Davies' baseline jumper. Davies, who entered the game averaging 7.6 points per game, made 6-of-8 from the floor for 12 points.
"We just weren't able to get out to her enough to affect her shot," McWilliams said.
Leading the Griffons (11-10, 6-6 MIAA) offensively was Brittany Atkins, who finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Half of Atkins' points came in the fourth quarter.
Next up for Lincoln (9-12, 1-11 MIAA) is Northwest Missouri (7-14, 3-9 MIAA). The Blue Tigers defeated the Bearcats 69-66 on Dec. 6 in Maryville for their lone conference win. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Jason Gym.
"I keep telling them it just takes one, but we've got to take care of the little things and the things we can control," McWilliams said. "And if we can do that for 40 minutes I think we'll find ourselves on the other side."