Lynx fall in opener at NAIA Tournament

Special to the News-DemocratMarch 20, 2014 

Second-seeded Pikeville (Ky.) had six players score in double digits to power it to a 103-76 victory over Lindenwood-Belleville on Thursday in a NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament first-round game at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

Keala King led the Bears with a season-high 32 points to go with 10 rebounds. Five other players had at least 11 points for Pikeville, which will advance to play St. Gregory's (Okla.) in a second-round game today.

Pikeville, which entered the game ranked No. 2 in the NAIA in scoring margin (plus-19.5 points per game) and sixth in scoring offense (90.8), never trailed as it dominated on the offensive end.

The Bears raced to a 21-6 lead in the opening five minutes and by halftime they owned a 60-36 advantage.

Pikeville drained six 3-pointers in the first half and outscored the Lynx 18-12 from the free-throw line.

Appearing in its first NAIA National Tournament, the Lynx did make a run early in the second half, pulling to within 62-46 at the 16:18 mark.

But that was as close as the Lynx, who did shoot 47-percent in the final 20 minutes, would get.

"Our approach was really good, our guys were focused and I think our experience from the past helped us settle in," said Pikeville coach Kelly Wells. "Our five seniors gave an unbelievable effort. I tell them all the time we don't need a Superman on this team, we just have to get it done together.

"You can credit Josh Whitaker and Elisha Justice for most of the defense, they gave an incredible effort. They have a big burden on their shoulders, it's not always the scoring, but defense and running the offense is so important."

Fourteen Pikeville players saw action and nine of them scored. In addition to King's double-double, Chris Cantino finished with 12 points and 13 boards.

The Lynx were led by the 25 points from Craig Anderson, with 16 coming in the second half. Former Central standout Garrett Gaffner chipped in 15 points. Darius Holman grabbed a team-high six rebounds and added 11 points.

"That (Pikeville) is the best team in the country hands down," said Lindenwood-Belleville coach Scott Spinner. "They have six Division I (NCAA) transfers and they are without a doubt the best team. I do not know if they will win the tournament, but they are very good. We obviously found that out today."

Lindenwood-Belleville finished its first eligible varsity season in the NAIA with a 22-9 record.

Notes

The Lynx' 60 points allowed in the first half and 103 total are the highest this season. ... LU-B suffered back-to-back for only the third time during the 2013-14 season. ... Anderson scored in double figures for the 13th-consecutive game.

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