For the second time in as many seasons, the Missouri Southern men’s basketball team has taken out an undefeated No. 1 ranked Northwest Missouri squad as the Lions won 83-77 tonight in front of more than 1,900 fans on Robert Corn Court inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Southern (8-6, 3-2 MIAA) has handed Northwest Missouri only its second loss in the last 49 games with both losses coming to the Lions.
Southern was led by CJ Carr with 27 points as he went 10-12 from the free throw line. Elyjah Clark scored 18 and added eight rebounds as he went 4-8 from long-range. Braelon Walker scored nine points and added four rebounds off the bench, while Kinzer Lamberthad eight points, six boards and three blocks. LJ Ross had eight points, and five boards. Christian Bundyscored nine points on 3-4 shooting.
The Lions trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and led by as many as ten in the second half.
Northwest (12-1, 4-1 MIAA) was led by Justin Pitts with 31 points.
Northwest opened up an 11-2 lead with just under 14 minutes to go in the first half, and a reverse layup from Carr with 13:04 left stopped a 5-0 run from the Bearcats. Back-to-back buckets from Pitts had Northwest, however, back up 15-4 with 11:32 to go.
A layup from Enis Memic with 9:11 to go stopped a 7-0 run from the Bearcats, but Pitts hit a three the next trip down, the fifth of the half for Northwest, to put the Bearcats up 21-6. Walker answered with a three of his own with 7:15 to go and free throws from Bundy and Clark cut the Northwest lead to 21-14 with 5:10 to go.
A three from Lambert with just more than four left on the clock off an assist from Walker cut the lead back to seven (24-17). A layup from Bundy with 2:45 to go cut the lead to five (26-21) and a five from Walker with just under a minute cut the lead to just three (30-27) and that would prove to be the halftime score.
A three from Carr with 16:14 left in the second half capped a 6-0 run from the Lions and tied the score at 37 and forced a Bearcats’ timeout. A three from Clark with 13:18 left got Southern within one (45-44) and a putback from LJ Ross gave the Lions their first lead of the game at 46-45 with 12:28 to go.
After a bucket from the Bearcats, a three from Carr put Southern back on top 49-48 with just more than 11:14 left and a three the next trip down from Clark increased the lead to four (52-48). A three from Carr with 9:39 left made the lead 55-50 and forced a Northwest timeout while a three from Clark with 9:00 left gave Southern a 58-51 lead.
Back-to-back baskets from Carr gave the Lions a 62-53 lead with 7:30 left and a free throw from Walker pushed the lead to ten (63-53) with 6:50 left. A 10-0 run from the Bearcats, however, capped by a pair of freebies from Pitts tied the score at 63 with 3:19 left.
Back-to-back buckets from Carr and Ross put the Lions ahead 70-64 and a pair of freebies from Carr with 1:05 left made it 72-64, Lions. A pair of freebies from Walker pushed the lead to eight (74-66) with 46 seconds left. Two free throws from Carr made the score 76-70 with 34 seconds to go and the Lions made their free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
Southern shot 45 percent from the field and 46 percent from long-range. The Lions out rebounded Northwest 34-28 and forced 11 Bearcat turnovers, scoring 15 points off of the miscues.
After scoring just 27 points in the first half, Southern scored 56 points in the second half and shot 57 percent from the field, including 58 percent from long-range.
The Lions will be back in action this Saturday as Southern plays host to Missouri Western. Tip off from Robert Corn Court inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center is slated for 3:30 pm.