Saturday, March 5, 2016

Lincoln Blue Tigers Fall to Nebraska-Kearney in Overtime at MIAA Tourney

KANSAS CITY, Missouri  -- The Lincoln men's basketball team used a 22-5 run to rally from a first half deficit and force overtime, but Nebraska-Kearney made a three-pointer in the final minute to defeat the Blue Tigers, 82-78, in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Men's Basketball Championship on Friday (March 4).

The Blue Tigers trailed by as many as 13 early in the second-half, but a layup by Jaylon Smith following a Richie Lewis steal sparked a run that turned a 47-34 deficit into a 56-52 Lincoln lead with just under 10 minutes to play. Lincoln (16-14) held onto the lead for the next five minutes before Nebraska-Kearney (19-10) hit a layup to tie the game at 60.

Anthony Virdure broke the tie with a three-pointer, but a UNK layup cut the LU lead down to one. Lewis made a pair of free throws to build the advantage back up to three, but the Lopers quickly hit a shot from downtown to the game at 65. A tip-in followed by a pair of free throws gave UNK a 69-65 lead entering the final minute of regulation, but Virdure made a layup to pull the Blue Tigers back to within two.

Lincoln fouled on its ensuing possession, and the Lopers hit just one of their shots at the line to keep LU within three. Smith then made two shots from the charity stripe in Lincoln's possession to cut the Loper lead down to 70-69. Lincoln was forced to foul, and UNK once again went 1-for-2 at the line, giving the Blue Tigers a chance for a tie.

Smith ended up being fouled on a layup attempt, and calmly hit both free throws to knot the score at 71 with nine seconds left on the clock. The Blue Tiger defense stymied any good looks at the basket for the Lopers, and a three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the backboard to send the game into overtime.

After the teams exchanged layups to open the extra period, Nebraska-Kearney made a pair of free throws for a 75-73 lead at the 3:32 mark. The teams once again traded layups before a shot by Smith made it 77-77 for the 12th tie of the contest with 33 seconds remaining. Smith was fouled on the play and made the and-one, giving LU a one-point lead with 33 seconds remaining.

Nebraska-Kearney used about 20 seconds of the shot clock before Connor Beranek found Trey Lansman open near the top of the key. Lansman's shot went through the net, giving UNK the two-point lead with 14 seconds remaining. Virdure ran the ball down the court before attempting a three-pointer that ricocheted off the rim. The Lopers got the rebound and made a pair of free throws to seal the win.

Lewis came very close to a triple-double, scoring 17 points and tying for the team-lead with nine rebounds while dishing eight assists. Lewis also had three steals. Smith and Rod Ollison also came close to doubling-up, with Smith tallying a team-high 25 points and eight rebounds to go with an assist and a block. Ollison, meanwhile, had eight points and nine boards to go with a block and a steal.

Virdure also scored in double figures, finishing with 18 points, four boards and a steal. O'Shai Clark and Aaron Spudich each added four points apiece, with Clark also grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists and tallying a block. Spudich contributed two boards and a steal. Tacourrus Mattox, meanwhile, rounded out the scoring with two points, three rebounds, an assist and a block.

Dan Carr, Assistant AD for Media Relations

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