Edmond, Okla. -- The Missouri Southern basketball team couldn't overcome a four-point halftime deficit and fell 76-65 at Central Oklahoma tonight. The Lions will now play at Emporia State on Monday night in a first-round MIAA Tournament game.
With Emporia State losing to Pittsburg State and Southwest Baptist losing to Missouri Western, the Lions secured the ninth seed and will face-off with eighth seed Emporia State at 7 pm on Monday.
Southern (12-14, 7-11 MIAA) was led in scoring by 17 points off the bench from Matt Everson. He went 6-8 from the field and 3-4 from the three-point line, while making both of his free-throw attempts. Jordan Talbert scored 13 and pulled down nine rebounds, while Austin Wright scored 12.
Central Oklahoma (13-13, 11-7 MIAA) had four score in double-figures led by 17 points from Josh Gibbs and 16 from Spencer Smith.
The Lions started hot, leading 9-2 early on after a three pointer from Cameron Cornelius with 16:47 left in the first half. The Bronchos went ahead 10-9, but the Lions came back with another run and led 18-10 after a jumper from Everson with 12:08 left in the half. An 8-0 run from UCO tied the game again, and both teams would trade points before the Bronchos took the lead for good at 28-27 behind a pair of freebies from June Carter with 3:37 left.
Central Oklahoma led 34-30 at the break and started the second half on a 11-1 run to lead by 14 (45-31) three minutes into the half.
The Lions shot 38 percent to UCO's 35 percent and rebounds were tied at 37 each. It was in the paint, where the Bronchos won the game as UCO held a 30-20 advantage. The game was tied five times and the lead changed hands six different times.
Southern will head to Emporia State on Monday night to take on the Hornets from White Auditorium at 7 pm. The winner of that game will face off against the No. 1 seed in Kansas City at noon on Thursday, March 7 from Municipal Auditorium.