DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
For the first time in over a month, both of Lindenwood’s basketball teams played on the road, where the men had a 1-4 record and the women were 3-1. Each of those records would suffer an addition to the loss column after falling to the Southwest Baptist Bearcats on Thursday night.
Getting the night started for the Lions were the No. 24 ranked women’s team, who were previously undefeated in conference play. But the Bearcats, despite being winless in MIAA play, weren’t fazed by the two teams’ records, defending their home court and using it to their advantage in silencing nearly every Lions run that was formed.
Each time Lindenwood cut the Southwest Baptist lead down, the hosts put together their strongest runs to regain their sizable leads. In the first half, the Lions’ uncharacteristic struggles from the field halted each of these runs. After coming into the game with the second best field goal percentage in the NCAA at 49.5%, Lindenwood shot just 26%, making nine of their 34 shots.
On the other side, it was Southwest Baptist’s destructive duo of Laura Vierkant and Bailey Rezabek that led the way at the half, scoring 13 points each and shooting a combined 11-18. Lindenwood’s inability to score and slow these two down would see them go into the second half on the wrong side of a 38-30 scoreline.
Lindenwood got off to a strong start in the third quarter, going on a 5-0 run in the first 31 seconds after Lindsay Medlen drained a three. Immediately after, however, the Bearcats shut the Lions down and went on a 8-0 run in the next few possessions, with Rezabek and Vierkant both knocking down threes of their own.
The remainder of the game was similar to the start of the second half, with the Lions building comebacks but failing to finish them off. This opened up the game for multiple Bearcat scorers, as the home side had five players net at least six points in the final two quarters.
Southwest Baptist’s diverse attack would see the Bearcats earn their first conference win of the season, taking down the Lions by a final score of 87-73. Lindenwood, in their first game as the #24 ranked team in the nation, fall to 11-2 on the season, and 5-1 in MIAA play.
After the women’s game, the men’s team faced the evenly matched Bearcats team, that was also just one game above .500. Right after falling in a three-overtime thriller last Saturday against Lincoln, Lindenwood came up just short in yet another heated contest.
The dominant team in the first half were the Bearcats, mainly due to their highly effective offense. Southwest Baptist scored 42 points in the opening 20 minutes on 59.3% shooting from the field, and an even 50% from beyond the arc. Their 6’5″ senior from Paris, France, Karim Mouliom, proved to be nearly unstoppable, scoring 10 points in the first half.
The Lions couldn’t duplicate the Bearcats’ shooting success, making just 12 of their first 31 shots. Keeping the visitors in the game was Chris King off the bench, who had an electric first 20 minutes, tallying 11 points on 57% shooting and was 3-4 from long range. Despite King’s spark, Lindenwood trailed 42-34 at the half.
After completing their comeback attempt to force overtime against Lincoln, Lindenwood came back once more, this time erasing the Southwest Baptist lead in the second half. Getting the Lions back into the game was sophomore T.J. Crockett, who couldn’t seem to miss in his first couple of minutes on the court. Crockett drilled all three of his three-pointers, getting the Lindenwood bench on their feet.
Mouliom’s goal was to sit the bench back down, and he managed to do just that with 16 second half points. A dominant player on the interior, the senior expanded his game in the final 20 minutes, knocking down two of his three attempts from three-point range.
In need of their own star to take over, Brad Newman answered back for Lindenwood, leading the charge once again when the Lions were trailing, scoring 12 points in the half. Newman, who forced overtime on Saturday, had another strong outing with 21 total at the conclusion of the game.
Behind these performances, the two sides would see each other separated by little in the final few minutes. With 59 seconds remaining, the Lions were down by four when Chandler Diekvoss re-entered the game off the bench and sank a three in front of his own bench to make it a 72-71 game. In the next possession, Southwest Baptist’s Maris Colton was fouled and sent to the free throw line, where he went 1-2 and kept it as a one-score game.
There were just 26 seconds remaining when the Lions begun their final, chaotic possession. King went inside for the game-tying layup, but Colton smacked the ball (and presumably the backboard) away to deny the Lions at the rim.
Lindenwood’s bench was irate after goaltending was not called by the officials, with numerous technicals being handed out to the Lions. Head coach Lance Randall was tossed, and the Bearcats were given eight consecutive free throws. Southwest Baptist put seven of them in, winning by a final of 80-71, even though the final score didn’t tell the whole story.
The Lions fall to 9-9 on the season, and 2-4 in the MIAA. Both Lindenwood teams will travel out to Warrensburg on Saturday to take on Central Missouri in hopes of getting back on the winning track.