By Dan Carr, Assistant AD for Media Relations Lincoln (MO)
Kone pulled down 18 rebounds and had a block and a steal while matching Witt with 21 points. Witt dished two assists, collected five rebounds and blocked a shot. As a team, the Blue Tigers shot .500 from the field and .808 at the free throw line, and also ended the game with a dominant 37-18 advantage in rebounding.
Lincoln (12-5, 8-5 MIAA) shot .625 from three-point range in the first half as LU took a 39-29 lead into halftime. Missouri Southern came back strong in the second half, however, scoring the first five points of the period before closing the gap to one on a trey with 15:28 to play. A quick dunk later put the Lions ahead, 46-45, and MSSU would later lead by three before Lincoln knotted the score on a three-pointer by Artese Stapleton.
The game would be tied six more times before a three-pointer and a jumper put MSSU ahead 71-66 with four minutes to play. Witt drained a three to spark Lincoln to an 8-1 run, but the score would be tied once again as a Missouri Southern bucket made it 74-74 with 1:28 left in the game. That was the last time the score would be tied, though, as Kone hit a layup and Witt blocked MSSU’s next shot, forcing the Lions to foul. DJ Richardson put LU ahead by four by making both shots at the line.
Missouri Southern (12-7, 8-5 MIAA) made a quick three-pointer to pull back within one, but Lincoln’s success at the line helped the Blue Tigers seal the win. Stapleton made four-straight free throws, and Richardson later made a pair of shots at the charity stripe to give LU a five-point cushion. Missouri Southern made a three right before time expired, but Lincoln ended up leaving Joplin with its fifth win in its last six games.
Richardson dished a team-high three assists and scored 17 points to go with three rebounds and a steal. Stapleton finished with 15 points and two assists, and Sam Rautins added seven points while Jamar Madge, Jr. ended the evening with three points, four boards and an assist. Franck Yetna grabbed three rebounds and Tyson Robinson dished an assist.
Lincoln will be at home for its next three games, beginning on Saturday (Jan. 28) by hosting Central Missouri at 3:00 p.m. CST.