David Schlager | Lindenlink Contributer
All good things must come to an end. While most clichés are overused, last week a great run indeed came to an end. The Lindenwood Lions men’s basketball team hosted the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats for a much anticipated senior day.
“At the beginning of the season, you look at the schedule and think that senior day is a long time away,” senior Richie Thompson Jr. said. “Then when you wake up it hits you that this is the last time we play at Hyland Arena. It was a weird feeling.”
The senior class accounted for 68 points in the 87-76 victory that improved the Lions record to 50-8 over the last four years in Hyland Arena. Sometimes senior day can be too much celebration and result in an unfocused letdown. “We were getting messages from everybody it seems like,” said senior Alex Bazzell.
“It was fun to celebrate, but regardless of which game it is we still have a game to play.”
Focus was not a non-issue and the Lions consistently handled the Bearcats throughout the game. Just minutes in, the Lions had a 10-point lead and extended the largest lead of the game to 17 points. The team is a fine representation of the current trend in college hoops. All but one senior transferred from an outside program to come together at Lindenwood.
“Once everybody started rolling in from different schools, everybody brought different experiences to the team,” said Thompson Jr. “I think that helped out the whole team.”
These transfer seniors came from Division I programs, community colleges, and overseas. Center Brett Thompson led the team with 18 points, in a game where the Lions had a significant size advantage. Big men Brett Thompson, Cody Sorenson, and Efkan Eren efficiently scored double-digit points. The maturity of the club showed near the end. Early in the season, the Lions often came up short at the free throw line. The Lions closed out last Saturday’s matchup nailing 10 straight free throws, finishing with an 87% clip from the line.
The team also played well defensively, especially in the second half, forcing SBU to a miserable 38% from the field. They exploited SBU’s weaknesses and forced the Bearcats to attack from the outside jacking up 28 shots beyond the arc. Despite being near the top of the conference with a 17-7 overall record (10-6 in the MIAA), the Lions are ineligible for postseason play due to the transition of Lindenwood athletics to Division II.
“[Before transferring], coach Soderberg told us that the rules are how they are, but regardless we are gonna win some games and have fun,” said senior Cody Sorensen.
This edition of Lindenwood basketball finished 10-3 at home. The Lions will wrap up the 2013 season on the road against Lincoln University on Feb. 27, and the University of Nebraska Kearney on March 1.