A break from conference play turned into a heartbreaking loss Monday night for the St. Ambrose men’s basketball team.
Visiting Lincoln scored the game’s final six points – all at the free-throw line over the final 1 minute, 10 seconds – to rally for a 77-74 win at Lee Lohman Arena.
“We couldn’t finish it off,’’ Fighting Bees coach Ray Shovlain said after watching a lead his team held the entire second half slip away in the game’s final minutes.
St. Ambrose turned the ball over twice in the final minute and missed a pair of 3-point attempts in the final seven seconds to craft a frustrating finish to a loss that came as the Bees played their fifth game in 10 days.
“Tough way to lose, tough, tough way to lose,’’ Shovlain said.
St. Ambrose, which led by as many as 11 points midway through the second half, maintained a 74-71 advantage following a lay-in by Alex Portwood with 1:40 to go.
As the shot clock ran down on the ensuing possession, Jalen Jones was whistled for a foul as Lejavius Johnson hit the court with a dramatic thud after launching a 3-point attempt from the top of the key.
The shot didn’t drop, but the three free throws did as the Lynx forged a 74-74 tie with 1:10 remaining.
St. Ambrose fouled after turning the ball over on its next two possessions and Lincoln made the Bees pay.
Julian Powell hit the second of two attempts at the line with :39 left to give the Lynx the lead and Trayvon Tyler provided Lincoln with its winning margin by knocking down a pair with :15 to go.
Following a timeout, Dylan Kaczmarek and John Kerr both had looks at the basket, Kaczmarek from the left baseline and Kerr from the left of the key following a long rebound, but neither could add to St. Ambrose’s collection of 10 3-pointers in the game.
“I felt like we ran a pretty good play. We just couldn’t get the shot to fall,’’ Shovlain said.
St. Ambrose gave itself plenty of second chances, counting 17 offensive boards among the 46 rebounds it grabbed.
But, a 20-rebound advantage on the glass wasn’t enough for the Fighting Bees to overcome 24 turnovers and the sizeable advantage Lincoln had at the line, where it hit 17-of-21 attempts as St. Ambrose connected on six of its seven tries.
Kerr, with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Jones led the Fighting Bees (16-11) while Johnson led the Lynx (21-7) with a 24-point game.
The win was the 11th in 12 games this season against Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference programs for Lincoln, a first-year NAIA program.
“It wasn’t a conference game, so it didn’t hurt us there, but they’re an athletic team that takes a lot out of you,’’ said Shovlain, whose team returns to CCAC play Wednesday. “We’ve got to get ready to go again.’’