Women set to play host to SBU Bearcats

Lions forward Tynesha Pierce shoots a jumper over Emporia State defender Michelle Stueve. The Lions dropped the game 72-49, but will look to bounce back tomorrow against SBU.

Jesse Cordova

Lions’ forward Tynesha Pierce shoots a jumper over Emporia State defender Michelle Stueve. The Lions dropped the game 72-49, but will look to bounce back tomorrow against SBU.

Hobie Brown

The Missouri Southern Lions head into tomorrow night’s 5:30 p.m. contest against the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist University with a lot more riding on the game than just another win or loss to their record.

“We are in a position where we control our own destiny,” head coach Maryann Mitts said.

This opportunity comes after a huge road win at Fort Hays State University found the Lions in a three-way tie for sixth in the MIAA with SBU and with Pittsburg State.

“This just goes to show how competitive the MIAA really is,” Mitts said. “To get that win on the road was a breath of fresh air.”

The Lions look for a different outcome, as the Bearcats won the first meeting between the two 80-75. The game saw Livia Brito, SBU’s six-foot post player score a season high 25 points, as well as 13 points from guard Cortney Shewmaker and 10-point performances from guards Amber Wheeler and Courtney Creed. For the Lions, forward Dana Mae Robbs returned from having hand surgery to score 23 points, and guard Robin Kantin contributed 19 in the loss on January 22.

Mitts took advantage of having three practice days and the time on the road to help bring the team back together.

“Our preparation was more demanding,” she said. “I think at times the mentality is the game plan or the scouting report is a suggestion on how to play the game. It’s not really a suggestion, it’s a demand. As a coaching staff, we changed our mentality.

“We really emphasized determined effort, and in the game, if we didn’t see a determined effort, we asked about it. We continued to do what we have been doing, which is trying to develop a winning mentality. Also, we revamped our defense and worked on fundamentals. Being on the road allowed us to talk basketball with the team, and that really helped to change our mindset.”

Even though the seven-game losing streak has been broken, The Lions returned to the loss column during Wednesday’s game against the Emporia State Hornets.

“Every team wants to win, but not every team knows how to win,” Mitts said. “Our girls want to win, but they don’t always know how or what it takes to win.”

Besides Robbs and Kantin, Mitts believes the roster needs to step up as they enter the final weeks of the season.

“Other teams look at our roster and they key in on the Robin Kantins and the Dana Maes because that’s their key to stopping us,” she said. “In order to be a good basketball team, you have to have other people who step up because those other people will have the weaker defenders on them. It’s really important that Tynesha Pierce and Fatai Hala’api’api step up in the post and produce, both in points and rebounds. I think on the outside, we are seeing a lot more production from Ela Zawadka. She’s really coming on for us. I also see a dynamic offensive punch from India Wood, but it’s only in practice. If she can step up and start being an offensive threat, then that would be a big help to us. But if one of those two players have a poor night, we still put ourselves in a position to win the basketball game.”

Kantin scored 18 and Robbs scored 13 as the Lions put away the Ft. Hays Tigers 70-61 on Saturday. The win came with 48 hours of being beaten by the Lady Blues of Washburn 81-50 Feb. 1. The Lady Blues, ranked fifth in the nation, held all Lion players under 10 points during the contest.

At home against Emporia State, the Lions lost 72-49. The Hornets won the previous meeting between the two teams 82-61.

“This is a different game than the last one we played against them, especially since we have Dana Mae in the lineup,” Mitts said. “It brings another player to the floor with athleticism and experience. Robin and Dana are the only two players on the team this year with experience. Danielle DeVader was hurt last year, and Karina Kuczynski was a red-shirt. We just don’t have that much experience. Bringing that senior leadership to the floor is pivotal in this game.”