The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 19, 2014

Cornelius' free throws lift Lions over Lincoln

Three days earlier, Cameron Cornelius walked away from the foul line, frustrated with consecutive missed free throws.

But Cornelius recovered to sink 9-of-12 charities against Lindenwood, and he made 13-of-14 while scoring 21 points Saturday afternoon as Missouri Southern defeated Lincoln 76-63 at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Marquis Addison added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Slim Magee scored 12 points as the Lions (13-2, 7-1 MIAA) stayed one-half game behind first-place Northwest Missouri State, which beat Central Missouri 80-68. The Lions and Bearcats collide Wednesday night in Maryville.

The Lions never trailed against Lincoln (2-14, 0-8), but they certainly struggled on offense, especially in the second half. In fact, the Lions went more than 12 minutes without making a field goal, scoring 16 consecutive points from the line before Jordan Talbert’s strong move in the paint produced a basket and a 70-61 lead with 1:59 left.

“We came out pretty flat offensively second half,” point guard Lane Barlow said. “We just weren’t clicking, but we pulled through and got the win.”

“Lincoln wouldn’t go away, and we had a real hard time guarding them,” Missouri Southern coach Robert Corn said. “We didn’t do a good job with our helpside defense and allowed too many drives to the basket.

“Then offensively ... I felt we played rather to win the game, I felt we played not to lose. Any time you do that, you get back on your heels, and usually nothing positive happens from that. Fortunately we pulled things together at the end and made enough free throws to put it away.”

Yes, free throws. The Lions sank 24-of-38 charities in the second half — they were 6-of-18 from the field in the last 20 minutes — and 38-of-48 for the game. The 38 free throws were five short of the school record set against Washburn in 1993.

Cornelius made the most trips to the foul line, making his first 12 before missing one with 54 seconds left.

“Me and free throws have an interesting history,” Cornelius said. “I can have games like Wednesday night where I miss three or four free throws, and then I’ll go where I don’t miss any free throws. It frustrates me, because like last Wednesday, my mom always gets on me, ‘You need to work on free throws, you need to work on free throws.’

“I made the first two. That’s when I thought I have the groove down, I’m ready to go. Just keep it going from here,” Cornelius said. “And then I missed one ... I knew I was perfect. I knew I was perfect.”

The Lions’ best offensive stretch came midway through the first half when Austin Wright hit two jumpers and Blaine Miller nailed a trey from the top of the key to ignite a 11-2 spurt that opened a 23-11 lead.

“A couple of times we got in rhythm and got some baskets out of transition,” Corn said. “Austin came in and hit a couple of shots. During that stretch, we got some baskets out of sets. That can get you into a positive rhythm, but second half, we never got into a rhythm in our halfcourt offense. Everything was a constant struggle.”

“A true indication of how our team played is assist-to-turnover ratio,” Corn said. “We had eight assists, 19 turnovers, and that gives you an indication that we weren’t very sharp offensively. Fortunately we did enough good things defensively, and they missed some free throws down the stretch that helped us, too.”

Joshua Buie and Mike Smith scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for Lincoln, and Charles Cole had 12.

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