The first two minutes of Thursday night's game put the Lincoln women's basketball team into a deep hole. But for the next 38 minutes, they did everything they could to try and climb out of it.
The Pittsburg State Gorillas made their first three 3-point shots and never trailed. The Blue Tigers continued to pressure the ball for the full 40 minutes in a 98-68 loss in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play at Jason Gym.
"We came out a little flat," Lincoln coach Ayana McWilliams said. "It took us too many possessions to get going. We probably didn't get a stop for the first six minutes of the first quarter.
"We have to understand that this MIAA conference is a tough conference, and you can't come out flat. You have to come out and put together your best 40 minutes."
Pittsburg State's Shelby Lopez made back-to-backs 3s to open the game, and the third 3 by Maya Williams extended the lead to 11-0 just 1:47 into the game.
Lopez shot 7-of-12 from 3 and finished with a game-high 30 points, reaching double figures in scoring less than five minutes into the game.
"We didn't find her and we let her get into a rhythm," McWilliams said.
Pittsburg State led 30-10 after one quarter and was ahead by as many as 33 points in the second quarter.
While the Gorillas finished the game 12-of-29 from 3-point range, Lincoln missed all 12 of its attempts beyond the arc. It was the first time the Blue Tigers were held scoreless from 3-point range since Nov. 21, 2017, when they were 0-for-18 and lost 59-43 to Stephens College.
"One of the keys was to neutralize the 3-ball, and we didn't do a good job of that," McWilliams said. "Honestly, I thought that was the difference in the ballgame. We got just as many shots as they did."
Since the 3-point shot didn't fall, Lincoln attacked the basket for the rest of the game. The Blue Tigers trailed 51-26 at halftime, but all 12 of their made field goals were scored in the paint.
Lincoln finished the game with 58 points in the paint, making all but one of their 30 shots inside the lane.
"Our game plan is to always to attack the basket," McWilliams said. "We have to always attack the basket, trying to get to the free-throw line. But we can't trades 3s for 2s."
Lincoln continued to apply full-court pressure on the defensive end, and the Blue Tigers used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to cut the lead 72-49.
Although Pittsburg State beat that pressure often and Lincoln allowed a season-high 98 points, the Blue Tigers were able to force 15 turnovers while committing just 13.
"I love that effort," McWilliams said. "That's the style of ball we want to play. We were down 25 at the half, so you have to come out and play that way."
Lincoln's Kaloni Pryear consistently attacked the basket late in the third quarter, scoring eight straight points for the Blue Tigers. She finished with 14 points, all in the second half.
McWilliams was pleased with Lincoln's effort in the third quarter. After scoring 26 points in the first half, the Blue Tigers poured in 29 points in the third, even though they trailed 81-55 entering the fourth.
"Once we regrouped, I loved the way we played," she said. "I love the fight we showed until the end."
Bre Coleman led Lincoln with 16 points, while Zoi Thompson added 13 points and Zhanesha Dickerson finished with 12 points. Coleman and Thompson each grabbed eight rebounds.
Kaylee DaMitz had 16 points for Pittsburg State (11-1, 3-0 MIAA), while Tristan Gegg and Williams each added 12 points. Athena Alvarado grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for the Gorillas.
Lincoln (9-3, 1-2 MIAA) hosts Missouri Southern at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Lions (9-4, 1-2 MIAA) lost 79-71 on Thursday at Lindenwood.