The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 13, 2014

MSSU's reserves key in victory

Missouri Southern’s usual cast of characters did their job.

But the bench — in particular Blaine Miller and Matt Everson — played a huge role as the Lions knocked off Northwest Missouri State 82-68 Wednesday night before 1,974 fans at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Lane Barlow, Marquis Addison and Slim Magee, who made his first start of the season, tallied 14 points apiece to lead the Lions (16-5, 10-4 MIAA). Addison also posted team highs with five assists and four steals.

Jordan Talbert, who had to leave with a bloody nose in the opening minutes, claimed nine rebounds as the Lions owned a 38-29 advantage on the boards. He also blocked two shots, handed out three assists and made three steals.

Miller, 6-foot-7 sophomore, and Everson, 6-3 senior guard, both scored 10 points. Their combined season average is 5.9 points.

Miller entered when Talbert went out, and he scored on a tipin, two 3-point goals and a layup off a pass from Everson as the Lions expanded a 10-5 lead to 28-14 with 7:21 left in the first half. Miller also blocked a shot during that 6 1/2-minute stretch.

“Basically my role is to come in and give energy when JT needs a break,” Miller said. “Coach has been getting on me to be more aggressive.”

He had four treys for the season before hitting 2-of-3 attempts against the Bearcats.

“I’ve been getting on the gun a little bit and been shooting it a little bit more,” Miller said. “The percent is going up a little bit.”

Everson scored all of his points in the second half, hitting 4-of-7 field goals and 1-of-2 shots from both the arc and the foul line. He made a 3 from the left wing and a floater down the lane on consecutive trips midway through the half, and his basket off a drive down the lane gave the Lions a 65-47 lead with 5:42 to play.

“I just wanted to come out strong and give my team a good effort,” Everson said. “It went well tonight. I wanted to attack and get to the rim. I wanted to play better offensively than what I have been.

“I suppose I was looking for my shot more. They were denying the wings a lot. We had the ball with the shot clock running down, so I knew I had to make a play with the last 10 seconds or so. My mindset at that time was to get to the basket and score.”

“Blaine really came through in the first half when Jordan got hit in the nose,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “At that stage you don’t know how long he’s going to be out, and Blaine really came through and played some great minutes for us.

“Matt played well in the first half except for the last 30 seconds. Then he really played well in the second half. He probably had his best game of the year.”

Senior guard DeShaun Cooper led the first-place Bearcats (18-6, 13-2) with 22 points, 15 in the second half despite sitting the first six minutes with three fouls. His two free throws with about six minutes left pushed his career total past 1,500 points.

Dillon Starzl added 11 points for the Bearcats, who saw their 10-game winning streak end.

The Lions shot 53 percent (17-of-32) while building a 40-26 halftime advantage. Greg Renfroe, Addison and Magee all had eight points in the half, including a reverse one-handed Slim slam by Magee for a 32-16 lead.

“I thought our defense was really good, particularly in the first half,” Corn said. “Obviously Cooper got going in the second half. You’re not going to keep him from getting started because he’s a great player. I thought the key to the basketball game was he’s going to get his points, but he only had two assists. So he didn’t get the other guys going with him.”

The Bearcats, after shooting 31 percent in the first half, hit five of their first seven shots in the second half and pared the deficit to 46-39. But Barlow grabbed a loose ball and turned it into a three-point play, and Addison’s steal near midcourt set up his three-point play for a 52-39 lead, and the Lions maintained a double-digit lead the last 14 minutes.

“I was concerned when they cut the lead to seven with Cooper on the bench,” Corn said. “We just didn’t come out in the second half with the fire that we had in the first half. But after they cut it to seven, our offensive execution became better, and we were able to get some stops on the defensive end.”

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