Maryville, Mo. -- The tenth ranked Missouri Southern men's basketball team trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half today, but couldn't complete the comeback as the No. 16 Northwest Missouri Bearcats defeated the Lions 67-64 to earn a share of the MIAA regular season title.
The Lions (22-6, 14-6 MIAA) will be the No. 4 seed in next week's MIAA Basketball Tournament in Memorial Auditorium in Kansas City. They will face either Fort Hays or Southwest Baptist in their first-round game.
Northwest (21-3, 15-5 MIAA) was led by DeShaun Cooper's 21 points and five rebounds. Kyle Haake scored 14 points, while Jake Reinders had a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Bearcats led by seven (12-5) at the 14 minute of the first half, but a jumper from Christian Salecich with 10:54 left in the first half, tied the game at 14 each and the Lions went ahead on a bucket by Addison the next trip down. A three-point play from Mike Thompson cut the score to 23-19 after Nothwest had used an 8-0 run to lead 23-16. A jumper from Cooper gave the Bearcats a 34-23 lead at the break.
Northwest led by 14 (46-32) after a free-throw from Haake with 14:49 left in the game. The lead would be 11 (61-50) with 6:31 left, but the Lions went on a 13-2 run to tie the game at 63 after a pair of free-throws from Addison with 1:20 to go. The Lions had the ball, trailing by one with 13 seconds left, but a jumper from Thomann wouldn't go.
The Lions out scored Northwest 18-8 in the paint and scored 14 points off of 22 Bearcat turnovers. The Lions shot 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from long range, but were out rebounded by Northwest 31-17.
Southern will wait until the conclusion of tonight's Fort Hays game to find out whom they will play in the first round next week, but the Lions know they will open up at 2:15 on Friday afternoon.