It wasn’t easy, but Missouri Southern ended the streak of three consecutive No. 1 seeds falling in the MIAA Men’s basketball Championship first round by defeating Southwest Baptist, 101-94.
The Missouri Southern big three of MIAA Player of the Year Skyler Bowlin (22), Jason Adams (23) and Keane Thomann (22) accounted for 67 points to lead the way for the Lions.
Southwest Baptist was led by Kurt Koenig, who poured in a game-high 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
After a strong run to end the first half, it appeared Southern (24-3) was ready to take control of the game when Adams hit a three to extend the MSSU lead to 50-41 with 19:40 to go in the game.
Missouri Southern went up by as many as 12 (65-53, 14:56 second half), but Southwest Baptist wasn’t going to go away easy. The Bearcats went on a 28-17 run over the next nine minutes to get to within one at 82-81, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
MSSU proceeded to go on a 16-6 run, capped by a Skyler Bowlin fast-break layup and two Bowlin free throws on the following possession to give the Lions a 98-87 advantage with 1:06 to play.
Southwest Baptist made it interesting with two three-pointers in the final minute, but it was not enough to overcome the deficit.
The two teams finished the game with a combined 23 three-pointers made on 52 attempts. The game featured nine ties, and the lead switched hands nine times as well.
Adams finished 7-of-13 from the field, including four three-pointers, to finish with his MSSU-high 23 points and added three rebounds. Bowlin was 6-of-11 overall and 3-of-6 from three-point range to finish with 22, and Thomann was 8-of-14 from the field to end with 22 points along with four rebounds.
Ryan Dougherty added 20 points for Southwest Baptist, which ends the season with a 12-17 record.
With the win, Missouri Southern, the nation’s eighth-ranked team, advances to face the winner of Nebraska-Omaha and Central Missouri Saturday at noon.
Story courtesy of theMIAA.com