Lions squeak past ECU

Nicole Greninger, senior guard, passes to a teammate over an ECU player.

Nicole Greninger, senior guard, passes to a teammate over an ECU player.

Defensive woes plagued the women’s basketball team in its Nov. 16 season opener.

Missouri Southern squeaked by the East Central (Okla.) University Lady Tigers, 70-68.

“Our defense was nonexistent tonight,” said Maryann Mitts, head women’s basketball coach. “On a scale of one to 10, it was about a two.”

Mitts said the team defense will be the main focus in practice this week.

She said she wants to have the women to a six or a seven by Friday. Offensively, Mitts said the team will continue doing what it has been.

Marina Caran, junior guard, agreed defense is where the Lions need to improve.

“I think we’ll get better everyday,” Caran said.

Mitts said the Lady Tigers did everything the scouting report said they would.

“We just didn’t give the emotion, the intensity and the desire to really stop the play on the defensive end,” Mitts said.

The Lions were down at halftime 31-29, but a 16-2 run spanning both halves allowed Southern to take the lead. And the Lions did not let it go.

With 15 seconds left in the game, Liz Burks, junior guard, missed two free throws, but she made it up on the opposite end of the court. Burks stole the ball from ECU just before time ran out.

Mitts said she was proud of Burks for coming back after missing the free throws.

“You learn a lot from a tight ball game,” Mitts said. “If we don’t learn a ton of things from this game, we’re not students of the game.”

A team-leading four three-pointers helped Megan Welch, freshman guard/forward, lead the Lions in total points with 17.

Robin Kantin, sophomore guard, was next in points, putting up 13. She was followed by senior forward Dacie Reutlinger, who earned 11 points on the night.

Caran helped them out by leading the team with six assists.

Kantin and Brianna Volmer, sophomore center, led the team in rebounds, both grabbing seven. Dana-Mae Robbs, junior forward, was just behind them with six.

The team as a whole shot 45.1 percent from the field and 45.5 percent beyond the arc.

Mitts said the game offered the young team numerous learning experiences because 10 of the 12 players have not played at the NCAA Division II level.

The Lions will host their annual Pizza Hut/Fairfield Inn Classic this weekend. On Friday, they will take on Southwest Oklahoma State University at 7 p.m. in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

On Saturday, they will play the University of Central Oklahoma at 3 p.m. in Leggett & Platt.

Tuesday, the women travel to Tahlequah, Okla. to play Northeastern (Okla.) State University.