BELLEVILLE — The Lindenwood University-Belleville Lynx men's basketball team didn't need a last second shot to take down the No. 3-ranked Freed-Hardeman Lions this time around -- all they needed was good defense.
Up by two points with nine seconds remaining, the Lynx stole the ball away from the Lions and presevved a 83-81 victory.
Lynx coach Scott Spinner said about the defense in the final nine seconds by LU-Belleville was solid.
"We picked up the point guard in the back court because what we said was whoever is throwing the ball in with nine seconds left, usually the No. 4 man, would not be involved in the play," said Spinner. "So we said whoever is guarding the No. 4 man shadow the ball and just follow it. That ended up putting three defenders on the ball and it prevented them from driving to the bucket.
"That was our plan. It is one thing to have a plan and it is another thing to execute it, and they went out and executed it. We are really proud of that possession at the end."
Craig Anderson came up big once again for the Lynx finishing the game with 27 points, five rebounds, five steals, and three assists. Anderson finished the game with 11 free throws.
Darius Holman picked up all of his 15 points in the second half, including a three point play with 33 seconds left in the game. Garrett Gaffner and Chris Stevenson each chipped in nine points apiece.
The Lynx finished the game shooting 35 percent from behind the three-point line.
To start the game, the Lions went on a 12-1 run to take an early 11-point lead. The run was capped off by a layup from Orlando Bass. Anderson connected on a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to seven with 11:08 remaining in the first half.
Up seven the Lions went on a 15-3 run to extend their lead to 19. Damion Wooten connected on a pair of three pointers and Reginald Gilmore knocked down a free throw to cap off the run. The Lynx made the final four points of the half to cut the deficit to 42-26 at the break.
In the first half the Lynx shot 16 percent from the field compared to the Lions' 45 percent.
To start the second half the Lynx went on a 10-1 run to cut the deficit to seven. Gaffner knocked down a 3-pointer to start the run and Anderson picked up a three point play to cap the run off. The Lions extended the lead back to 12 after basket and free throw by Bass and a jumper from Gilmore.
Down 10 with 11:32 left in the game the Lynx went on a 12-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Holman made four straight points to cap off the run. The Lions came right back and went on a 7-0 run to take a five point lead of their own.
The Lynx battled back and tied the game up at 73 with just over three minutes remaining.
Both teams would trade the lead over the final three minutes, but a dunk by Holman and a foul would extend the Lynx lead to three with 33 seconds left. Bass connected on one of two free throws to cut the deficit to two and after two missed free throws by the Lynx the Lions had one last chance.
The Lynx defense came up big and did not allow a shot over the final nine seconds.
Spinner acknowledged the first half for the Lynx was tough. But they overcame that in the second half.
"I was real proud of our guys, they played tough. We did not start the game very well. We got down early, but we knew that if we played tough defense and could weather the storm, we could get back in the game," said Spinner. "That was one of the game plans in our scouting report against this team -- they can go on runs and we knew that if they do, we needed to weather the storm and it would eventually end.
"We knew as long as you play tough defense and control the boards at some point we would make a run of our own and it came after halftime, that is not ideal, but we are excited about the result."
With the win, the Lynx move to 18-7 on the season and extend their winning streak to seven. The Lions fell to 20-2.
Spinner said this win means the Lynx are moving forward.
"This win means a lot, it is one thing to beat the No. 1 team in the country once and it is quite another to do it twice," said Spinner. "Hopefully the raters that are out there will take notice. I think some of them took notice after the first win, but two wins over a top five team in the country is pretty impressive and I hope that puts us in the national rankings, I think it is deserving of it."
Next up the Lynx will travel to Wilberforce, Ohio on Thursday to take on Wilberforce University. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.