By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
In the final game of the 2011-12 season, Northwest Missouri State nipped Missouri Southern 67-65, costing the Lions a share of the MIAA championship.
The Bearcats gave the Lions another dose of disappointment on Thursday night, a 69-68 overtime setback at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
“It’s obviously very tough to swallow this one, especially after the way we played them last year,” junior guard Marquis Addison said. “It’s just something we’re going to have to put behind us at midnight and really focus in on Saturday and preparation for Missouri Western.”
The Lions (6-4, 1-1 MIAA) play host to Missouri Western (5-6, 1-2) tonight at 7:30 in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Griffons’ game on Thursday night also came down to the wire, and Missouri Western won at Central Oklahoma 78-77 on Reed Mells’ go-ahead basket with six seconds left, followed by a steal by Adrarius Fulton at midcourt.
Alfreeman Flowers scored 17 points as Missouri Western snapped a four-game losing streak despite trailing by 14 points at halftime and then being hit with three technical fouls during a three-minute stretch in the second half.
Addison’s 24 points and 18 from Stephen Atkinson accounted for almost two-thirds of the Lions’ points. It was the fourth time in the last six games that the Lions had only two players score in double figures.
“We need to find that scoring balance,” Lions coach Robert Corn said.
The Lions fell behind by 11 points in the first half but cut the deficit to 36-32 at the break. The Lions outscored the Bearcats 28-24 in the second half, then had the first six points in overtime before scoring only two points in the final 3:21.
“In the first half we had only one offensive rebound,” Addison said. “It’s just playing a little bit harder, I suppose. It was tough with Jordan (Talbert) out down the stretch.”
“I thought we were a little more aggressive offensively,” Corn said. “The first half I thought we relied too much on just shooting jump shots. Even though we shot 50 percent (12-of-24), you knew over the course of the second half we couldn’t continue to live by the jump shot. We had to take it to the basket, and I thought our penetration to the basket and getting the ball inside more was more effective.”
The Lions’ chances were hurt down the stretch as forward Jordan Talbert fouled out and then guard Morgan Smith exited after bumping a knee while trying to get around a screen.
“He was limited in practice (on Friday),” Corn said. “I anticipate by (Saturday) he’ll be ready to go.”
Cedric Clinkscales, 6-7, 230-pound junior, leads the Griffons at 15.3 points per game. The Griffons average 67.5 points per game, four more than their opponents.
“Their post player is a load on the inside, an all-MIAA type player,” Corn said. “Our post defense has to be very good. We want to force him off areas where he wants to catch the ball.
“They’ve been playing zone all year long. It’s going to be important that we shoot the ball well and do a good job of attacking the zone.”