Lions not helping case for tourney

Lions not helping case for tourney

Jim Quist

Lions not helping case for tourney

The Missouri Southern men’s basketball team entered this week clinging to the final spot in the MIAA Tournament, but didn’t do itself any favors.

Southern fell 76-58 at Pittsburg State Wednesday, dropping to 16-9 overall and 6-9 in the MIAA. They are sitting in eighth place and if the season ended they would be the last team to punch a ticket to Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.

Skyler Bowlin and DaRell Crittendon both led Southern with 10 points each. Bowlin added seven assists, while Crittendon had six rebounds. Mariun Price had nine points and five rebounds.

PSU (10-13, 5-11 MIAA) had three score in double-figures, led by 21 points from Rodney Grace. Carlos Taylor scored 17, while Jeff Ivory had 10. T.J. Stukes scored seven and added 13 rebounds.

Southern led 8-5 after a jumper from Bowlin with 15:51 left to go. A jumper from Pitt’s Stukes tied the game at nine and the Gorillas took a 12-9 lead the next trip down on a three from Taylor.

Pitt pushed it’s lead to six twice, before a jumper from Matt Monroe cut the deficit to two (23-21) with just under eight minutes to go.

The Gorilla lead grew back to nine after a free throw from David McKinnie and then to 11 (37-26) after a layup from Taylor with just over three minutes left in the half.

A three from Spencer Magana at 1:21 made the PSU lead 42-26. A layup from Mariun Price with 31 seconds left in the half stopped a 12-0 run for the Gorillas and made the score 42-28. Chris Scruggs added a free throw, but a three from Magana as time expired made the halftime score 45-29.

A dunk from Pitt’s Rodney Grace made the score 53-36 with 13:13 left in the second half. Another dunk, this time from Stukes, gave the Gorillas a 21 point lead (59-38) with 10:28 to go. Back-to-back buckets from Grace gave Pitt its largest lead of the night at 23 (64-41) with nine minutes to go and a pair of free throws from him pushed the lead to 25. After a steal, Grace scored his ninth straight point on another dunk to give Pitt a 27 point lead at 68-41.

Pitt shot 50 percent from the field and out rebounded the Lions 38-32. The Lions’ bench out scored Pitt, 23-20.

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow, when Southern plays host to Emporia State in a 7:30 p.m. tip off. Southern lost at Emporia 71-66 earlier in the season.

Southern dropped a league road game Feb. 7, falling 90-78 to Missouri Western in St. Joseph.

“Missouri Western came out with a sense of urgency that you need to make the conference tournament,” said Missouri Southern Head Coach Robert Corn. “We had a lot of turnovers and they turned those into easy baskets. We were down 10-0 and then down 17-3 and that put us in an uphill battle.”

And it doesn’t seem to be getting easier. Tomorrows game brings to Leggett & Platt one of the better teams in the MIAA.

ESU has a 9-7 record in league play and a 15-8 mark overall under Head Coach David Moe. Moe was a former NBA assistant coach for three teams, including two coached by his father, Doug.

The first meeting of the year for the Lions against the Hornets was a setback, when the team was ranked No. 12 in the country. Southern held a lead in the game, 34-32, at halftime.

The Hornets feature a talented squad this year, led by a trio of players. Lamar Wilbern leads the team with 15.9 points per game and at 6-foot-2, is also the team’s top rebounder with 7.7 rebounds per game. Robert Moores, a Division I transfer from Albany, is scoring 14.2 points per game, while Jeremiah Box, a 6-foot-5 forward, is scoring 11.4 points per game.

Then, on Feb. 19, the Lions travel to Topeka to face the Ichabods of Washburn.

In the first meeting between the two teams, MSSU pulled out an 82-67 victory, sparked by 16 points from Maurin Price and 14 each from Skylar Bowlin and Tony Webb.

Since the start of the new year, Washburn has played 10 games, winning 5 and losing 5. In that stretch though, the Ichabods won three in a row. Washburn is 13-10 overall and 9-7 in conference action.