Posted: Dec 19, 2012 9:03 PM
JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- The Blue Tigers had an opportunity to tie the game at the end, but Darius Whitson's buzzer-beating three-point attempt bounced off the inside of the rim and the Lincoln men's basketball team fell to Maryville, 75-72, on Wednesday night. It seemed to be one of the few long distance shots that did not go in, as the two teams combined to make 23 treys in a game that went right down to the wire.
The tone for this game was set early, as Charles Cole made back-to-back three-pointers to give LU a 6-0 lead at the start of the contest. Maryville responded with four-straight treys of its own to go ahead, 12-6, before Sean Harris cut the deficit to five with a free throw. Harris later made the score 12-9 with a dunk at the 13:40 mark, with that basket being the first non-three field goal of the evening by either team.
Maryville led for most of the first half, but Lincoln rallied back in the final five minutes. Harris hit a layup with 2:19 remaining to tie the game at 26, then Cole made a pair of free throws to give LU the lead. Another free throw from Harris gave Lincoln a three-point cushion, but that was quickly erased as Maryville tied the game back up with its sixth trey of the period. Cedric Ridle hit a jumper on the ensuing possession to put LU up, 31-29, and that lead held into the halftime break.
The Saints took a one-point lead early in the second period, but Ridle and Cole scored the next four points to give Lincoln a lead it would not relinquish through most of the period's first 12 minutes. The game changed at the 8:23 mark. With Lincoln up by four, 50-46, Maryville made a three-pointer, forced a quick turnover, then took the lead on a dunk. Less than two seconds later, MU stole the ball and scored again, going ahead, 53-50.
Devin Booker tied the game up with a three-pointer on the next possession, but Maryville retaliated with a trey of its own. Lincoln once again had an answer, as Greg Motley knotted the game at 56-all with a three-pointer. MU quickly raced down the court, however, and took the lead back with yet another long distance jumper. In a game of long range shooting, though, LU refused to yield, with Booker hitting one more three to knot the game up at 59 with 5:04 remaining.
The game would not stay tied for long, as Maryville made yet another three-pointer to spart a 10-2 run and seemingly take control of the game. The Blue Tigers proved their resilience, as, with 2:04 to go, Booker connected on his third trey of the evening to cut Maryville's lead down to 69-64. MU hit a jumper on its next possession before Motley was fouled on a successful three-pointer that made the score 71-67 at the 1:17 mark.
Motley's free throw attempt went went off the rim, and Maryville made a dunk off a fast break to increase its advantage to six. Cole cut the deficit to three on a trey, but Lincoln was forced to foul, and MU went back up by five after making a pair of shots from the charity stripe.
Lincoln reversed the script on its next possession, as Cole was fouled and made two free throws of his own to make the score 75-72. That set in motion the events that led to the game's thrilling conclusion as, after being quickly fouled, the Saints missed both of their next two free throws, giving the Blue Tigers one last chance at a tie. Cole grabbed the rebound off the second, hustled down the court and threw up a shot, but it went wide of the rim. Whitson was there to grab the board, and he muscled his way into three-point territory to try one last tying shot. The ball bounced out as the buzzer sounded, allowing the Saints to escape with the win.
Cole led Lincoln with 24 points and eight rebounds, going 4-for-9 from long distance. Motley made four of his six three-point attempts, finishing with 12 points and three assists, while Booker scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds. Shakir Preston and Ridle each tallied six boards, with Ridle also contributing six points, and Harris had a block and three rebounds to go with six points of his own.
Whitson finished with seven points, including making a three-pointer, as Lincoln finished the day 12-of-31 from three point land (38.7%). Maryville was just as hot from long distance, making 11-of-26 trey attempts (42.3%). For the game, Lincoln shot 42.6% from the floor (23-54) while Maryville made 53.1% of its shots (26-49), but LU outrebounded MU, 35-34. Lincoln lost the turnover battle though, giving the ball away 14 times while forcing just nine Maryville turnovers.
Brandon Stanciel scored four points with two rebounds while Jeremy Jackson rounded out the scoring with two points and two boards. Montez Fifer also played for LU, tallying three assists.
Lincoln falls to 2-10 on the year with the loss, which came in the Blue Tigers' final non-conference game of the season. It was also LU's last game of the 2012 calendar year. Maryville, meanwhile, improved to 10-2 on the season.
The Blue Tigers will be back in action on Jan. 3, when Lincoln resumes MIAA play with a road trip to Kirksville, Missouri to face Truman State. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. CST.