The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 12, 2014

Defense boosts Southern men past Northeastern

Tahlequah, Okla. — Chalk one up for the Missouri Southern defense.

The Lions limited Northeastern State to 37 percent shooting from the field and knocked off the league-leading RiverHawks 80-65 Saturday at the NSU Event Center.

Forward Jordan Talbert and center Slim Magee scored 14 points apiece for the Lions (11-2, 5-1 MIAA), and Cameron Cornelius and Marquis Addison each had 10 as the Lions beat the RiverHawks on the road for the third time in school history.

The Lions shot 50 percent from the field (28-of-56), but the Lions’ effort at the defensive end of the floor produced the victory.

The RiverHawks (10-3, 5-1) made 19-of-52 shots overall and 7-of-20 from beyond the arc. Just two nights earlier, the RiverHawks made 13 treys and scored 97 points in a home victory over Southwest Baptist.

“Definitely defense,” Talbert said. “The way Cam played (Bryton) Hobbs, that was definitely major for us. Our helpside ‘D’ was definitely major for us. Our defensive rebounding was major for us. I think it was our defense that carried us through.”

The Lions also dominated the rebounding 43-28, led by 10 boards from Magee, seven from Talbert and six from point guard Lane Barlow. The RiverHawks missed 33 shots but had only seven offensive rebounds. By contrast, the Lions rebounded almost half of their missed attempts (13-of-28).

“The last couple of games I’ve been in a slump,” Magee said. “Coach (Nick Bradford) had been on me and saying I haven’t been tough enough because the last game I had four rebounds and the game before that I had two. He told me to go out and be tough, and I had the mindset to come out and go after every board.”

Guard Bryton Hobbs scored 20 points for NSU, four below his season average and half as many as he had two nights earlier against SBU. Hobbs was 5-of-15 from the floor, 1-of-4 from 3 and 9-of-12 at the line.

“To hold them to 37 percent and outrebound them 43-25, that’s where it starts,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “Our defense was really good today. Hobbs is a great player, and no one guy is going to stop him. Cam and Austin (Wright) had the primary responsibility on him, but it takes the whole team. You basically have to have one and a half guys guard a guy like that. Our helpside defense was very good as well.”

The Lions trailed 13-6 after seven minutes, but the Lions went ahead to stay 16-15 on Wright’s jumper midway through the half.

The Lions scored the last five points of the first half — three-point play by Talbert and two free throws by Wright — to lead 38-30 at the break. Then they outscored NSU 20-11 in the first 10 minutes of the second half for a 58-41 advantage capped by two Magee baskets off passes from Barlow. Addison, Talbert and Greg Renfroe also had four points in the spurt.

Ignited by treys from Hobbs and Jeremy McDonald, the RiverHawks closed within 66-57 with four minutes left. But sophomore Blaine Miller — part of a productive Lions bench — shined on the next possession.

Magee missed on the inside, but Miller jumped to bat the ball outside, and Cornelius then batted the ball to Barlow to get a fresh shot clock. About 20 seconds later, Miller got the ball at the top of the key and drilled the 3-pointer to make it 69-57 and start a game-clinching 10-3 spurt.

 “I thought Blaine’s 3 was really a big factor,” Corn said. “We were struggling a little bit. It was down to nine at that point, and we were back on our heels a little bit. For him to step up and knock down that 3 was very important.”

After two road victories, the Lions return home to play Lindenwood on Wednesday night.

“This was a big week for us, especially against Northeastern, which is leading the conference,” Talbert said. “We had this one marked on our calendar, and to come here and execute, this is a big win.”

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