LEBANON The McKendree University men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the 2016-17 season Tuesday night with a 90-81 setback at home against Lincoln University.
The visiting Blue Tigers connected on 12-of-20 3-point field goal attempts to grab their first victory over the Bearcats since the 2013-14 season. McKendree slips to 2-1 overall and will head to Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday for a non-conference game at Trevecca Nazarene University. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
Junior guard Justin Blanks led the way for McKendree with 19 points, while senior guard Michael Jackson dropped in 18 points in the contest. Freshman center Nolan Gerling registered a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Bearcats. Senior guard Kyle Yates posted a career-high 13 points in the effort for the Bearcats.
Lincoln (4-1) raced to a 14-3 lead in the first three minutes of action. McKendree was able to battle back within 21-16 on the second of back-to-back 3-pointers from Jackson with 12:15 left in the first half. The Blue Tigers quickly extended their lead back to double digits, taking their largest lead of the period at 37-20 with 5:38 remaining. As a team, Lincoln made 7-of-10 3-point attempts in the first 20 minutes of play on its way to a 46-34 lead at the break.
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The Blue Tigers’ lead grew to 20 points at the outset of the second half before McKendree carved into the deficit. The Bearcats scored 14 of the next 18 points to pull within 61-51 with just over 13 minutes remaining. Senior forward Darin Winkelman connected on consecutive 3-pointers to open the burst, while Gerling accounted for four points.
A pair of free throws by senior forward Brian Koch at the 7:19 mark brought McKendree within 74-66. Lincoln then put the game out of reach with an 11-2 run to build its advantage back to 85-68 inside the final four minutes.
McKendree turned the tables on the Blue Tigers in the second half, shooting 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the period. Lincoln, however, held a 26-7 edge in bench scoring on the night and outscored the Bearcats in the paint by a 27-14 margin.
Jaylon Smith led all scorers with 26 points for Lincoln while hauling in a team-leading nine rebounds. Tacorrus Mattox and Maurice Mason each connected for 14 points.