The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 15, 2014

MSSU men look to build off impressive home win

Consecutive losses to Central Missouri hurt the confidence of Missouri Southern’s basketball team.

“A little bit,” sophomore forward Blaine Miller said, “but we had a team meeting right after the walk-through (Wednesday) before the game. We talked about what we need to do to get this thing rolling.”

“The seniors wanted to air everything out, make sure we were on the same page,” senior guard Matt Everson said. “We wanted to let everyone know that for the seniors this is our last go-around. We wanted everyone to know how much it meant to us to come out and finish the season strong. I think it really helped us out.”

The team meeting may have produced immediate results as the Lions righted the ship with an 82-68 victory over MIAA leader Northwest Missouri State.

Now the Lions play three of their final five regular-season games on the road, starting this afternoon at Missouri Western.

The Lions capitalized on their size advantage during a 105-71 home victory over the Griffons last month. Sophomore center Greg Renfroe made 10-of-12 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws for a career-best 28 points, and senior center Slim Magee added 12 points.

The Lions, who hit 34-of-50 shots from the floor, also were effective from the perimeter. Marquis Addison nailed 4-of-5 treys while scoring 14 points, and guards Cameron Cornelius and Lane Barlow added 13 and 10, respectively.

Jordan Talbert’s eight rebounds led the Lions’ dominant 42-23 rebounding margin.

The Lions showed some of those same traits in Wednesday’s victory over the Bearcats, which clinched a conference postseason tournament berth.

Missouri Southern shot 53 percent from the field, including 9-of-15 from beyond the arc, and the Lions won the rebounding battle 38-29.

The Lions turned 14 offensive rebounds into a 21-7 advantage in second-chance points.

“That’s a big key,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “With six or seven minutes left in the ball game, there were two or three straight possessions where we got offensive rebounds, and we were able to get to the free throw line as a result of it. We didn’t make both free throws, but it allowed us to run some more time off the clock.”

The Lions trailed only after Northwest Missouri scored the game’s first basket. Two Addison treys sandwiched around two Magee buckets gave the Lions a 10-5 lead.

“Marquis and Slim got us going,” Corn said. “We had turnovers on our first two possessions, but I wasn’t disappointed in that because we were trying to go inside on both of them. I’d rather have that early in the game than two lazy passes on the perimeter that they could convert into easy baskets.”

Miller and Everson scored 10 points apiece to lead a Lion bench that outscored the Bearcats 31-21.

“The bench brought a lot of energy coming into the game,” Miller said. “That’s what we have to do every game though.”

The Lions (16-5, 10-4 MIAA) are tied for third place in the league with Fort Hays State. They hope Wednesday’s victory over the Bearcats is the start of a strong finish to the season.

 “The tournament is coming up,” Miller said. “We have to have some momentum going into the tournament if we want to win that and make a stretch run when March hits.”

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