Sunday, February 14, 2016

Virdure & Smith Combine to Score 49 As LU Sweeps ESU

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri --  Anthony Virdure and Jaylon Smith combined to score 49 points and Richie Lewis added 17 as the Lincoln men's basketball team rallied from a halftime deficit to beat Emporia State, 76-70, on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 13). The win, coupled with a road victory over the Hornets back on Jan. 2, gives Lincoln a season sweep over Emporia State, its first MIAA sweep since 2011-12.

Virdure was 7-for-14 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three-point range and Smith hit five treys, including three early in the second half to help the Blue Tigers rally from a five-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 49. The most important play of the game, however, was likely made by Lewis, who helped LU take a four-point advantage on an old-fashioned three-point play with 40 seconds remaining.

Lincoln (13-11, 9-9 MIAA) and Emporia State (11-13, 8-10 MIAA) played a back-and-forth game up until that final 40 seconds, with the contest featuring eight ties and six lead changes. The final tie came with 2:24 remaining, as a trey by ESU's Jay Temaat squared the game at 68-all. A little over a minute later, Virdure went 1-for-2 at the free throw line to give LU a one-point lead, and O'Shai Clark pulled down a rebound on the ensuing possession to get the ball back to the Blue Tigers. Lewis then took over, waiting until the play clock dipped under 10 seconds before driving through the lane and hitting a huge layup. Emporia State was called for a foul on the play, and Lewis made the charity shot to put Lincoln ahead, 72-68.

The Blue Tigers forced a stop on the Hornets' next possession and were sent to the line, where LU missed both shots. Lincoln ended up getting a big offensive rebound, however, and Virdure made a free throw to give the Blue Tigers a five-point cushion. LU hit three more shots at the line down the stretch while allowing just a late layup by the Hornets in the waning seconds of the game.

Virdure ended his night with 25 points, four rebounds while Smith finished with 24 points and six boards. Both players also had a steal and an assist. Lewis, meanwhile, also grabbed six rebounds and dished a team-high three assists while recording four steals.

Rod Ollison added five points, five boards and a steal while Clark scored three points and Tacourrus Mattox added two. Clark also recorded a block and an assist and tied for the team-high with six rebounds. Aaron Spudich provided a pair of assists while DeAnthony Wilson and Alexander Nailes also saw time on the court for LU.

The Blue Tigers return to the road for their next two games, starting on Thursday (Feb. 18) when Lincoln plays at Nebraska-Kearney at 7:30 p.m. CST.



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