The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 28, 2014

Magee, Wright spark MSSU to win No. 20

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — The Lions put on another shooting display at Hyland Arena.

But this time, the Lions were from Missouri Southern.

The combination of Slim Magee’s inside work and Austin Wright’s long-range sniping propelled MSSU past the Lindenwood Lions 90-74 on Thursday night.

The Lions (20-5, 14-4 MIAA) reached 20 victories for the third time in the last four seasons and retained third place in the conference standings, one game ahead of Fort Hays State. The Lions, guaranteed a quarterfinal berth in next week’s conference tournament, play Saturday afternoon at Lincoln to end the regular season.

Almost 14 months ago, Lindenwood sank 11 3-point goals and shot 58 percent in a 95-69 home victory.

“I really remember that,” Wright said. “We came out here and got embarrassed last year. They shot well and we didn’t defend well last year. We weren’t hitting shots last year. We knew what we had to do. We still have a chip on our shoulder. We’re still fighting. The season definitely is not over.”

But on Thursday night, Missouri Southern held Lindenwood to 44 percent shooting, and many of the host’s 10 treys came after the outcome was decided.

Missouri Southern shot 47 percent and matched Lindenwood’s 10 3s. Wright, a sophomore sharpshooter from Bixby, Okla., nailed 6-of-8 3-pointers while matching his career high with 23 points. Overall he was 8-of-10 from the floor and made his only free throw attempt as he was fouled while making a trey from the right wing midway through the second half.

“It’s just confidence,” Wright said. “I felt good. I felt good in shootaround this morning, and my teammates were finding me. All the credit really goes to them getting me the ball.”

“Austin has been playing with a lot of confidence,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “He’s shooting the ball extremely well, and he’s not hesitating. Last year as a freshman he was pretty hesitant to take some shots. But now as a sophomore, he’s earned his stripes. He welcomed the opportunity to come in here and take shots, and we’re glad he did because he’s making them.”

Wright’s two misses came in the first half. Both were on target, but one from the left corner pinballed out and another from about 30 feet was short.

“I knew how far out I was,” Wright said with a laugh. “I hesitated. He was backed off. It was on line … I really thought it was good. I just didn’t have the legs.”

Magee, 6-foot-11 senior, dominated the paint from the outset and collected 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. He had a double-double by halftime — 11 points and 11 boards — and he rejected five shots.

“With their lack of depth on the inside, we wanted to try to take advantage of that,” Corn said. “Slim scored our first six points, and he was real active on the boards. He used his length really well. Any time you get 18 rebounds and five blocks, that’s using your length pretty well.”

Marquis Addison, slowed first by foul trouble and later by an ankle injury, had 14 points, and Cameron Cornelius scored 12.

Jordan Talbert snared 11 rebounds as the Lions dominated the glass 43-31. Talbert also dished out seven assists — one more than Matt Everson — and Lane Barlow made four steals on his 22nd birthday.

Tyler Ressel, Lindenwood’s lone senior, scored 16 points after being held to two points in the first 27 minutes. Garrett Reeg also had 16 for Lindenwood (10-18, 6-13), followed by Darris Smith with 15 and Rayko Dundalov with 12.

The Lions led almost the entire ball game, stretching a 12-point lead to 49-32 in the closing minutes of the first half and then scoring the first seven points of the second half on a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Cornelius, buckets by Magee and Addison and a Talbert free throw.

“We felt like we were always in control of the game,” Corn said. “At the start of the second half I thought things came too easy for us really. We were able to get some steals off loose passes and we were able to convert, and the lead ballooned up to 24. We didn’t play with fire. We’d let them come back, and then we would pick it up again and get a nice lead. We didn’t sustain the intensity we were looking for.”

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