By John Goralski
Massasoit Community College was coming off a victory against a top 5 school in Division II, but Lincoln College NE never wavered. On Thursday, Feb. 6, the Wildcats battled to a two-point lead at the break and overwhelmed the Warriors in the second half.
It was just another example of the D-III basketball team dispatching a strong opponent from a higher division.
That’s why Wildcat fans are so frustrated by the latest NJCAA D-III poll that has Lincoln ranked 11th in the nation. What more do they need to accomplish to get recognized as a top 10 team?
“Our guys still feel like they have something to prove,” said Lincoln coach Preston Beverly. “As a coaching staff, it isn’t something that we really focus on, but our guys have a sort of chip on their shoulders. We’re first in the region, first in the district, but we’re not even representing them in the top 10? We’re going to continue proving it by winning games.”
It took a hurculean effort by D-II Massasoit just to stay close. Wildcat guard Chris Austin scored 19 points and five assists off the bench. Jalen David had 17 points with 10 rebounds. Kyre Jackson scored 12 points with 11 boards, and Michael Campbell scored 11 off the bench.
Massasoit countered from long range. Chris Green (21 points) converted five three pointers, and the rest of the team combined for three more. Still, Lincoln out-rebounded the Warriors, 51-31, to muscle the victory.
“They sort of let it fly from the three point line, and they pressed us a little as well,” said Beverly. “But we got some great production from those guys off our bench. I really do think that we don’t just have a good starting five. We have a good No. 6, 7, and 8, and this game really proved that with our scoring off the bench.”
Two days later, Lincoln extended their winning streak to 10 games with an 82-71 road win in Groton. UConn-Avery Point stayed within nine points in the first half, but the Wildcats never let them get closer.
Austin finished with 18 points. Kojo Lockhart added 14 points, and four players combined for seven points apiece as the Wildcats improved to 18-5 with the victory.
Now, Beverly hopes to cap the regular season with three more victories over the next week and a half. Maybe that will be enough for a top 10 ranking. Beverly just wants to keep the focus on the game in front of them.
“This is the time of the year where guys can get complacent,” he said the coach. “We have to keep diving at that loose ball or get that box out. This is where we really have to sharpen our skills for postseason play.”
By John Goralski