Southern stomps Gorillas, prepares for Emporia

Keith Robertson

Missouri Southern completed the season sweep of bitter rival Pittsburg State University with an 80-75 win on Feb. 12.

The win improved the Lions’ record to 15-6 (9-4 MIAA). It also restored a little confidence after their 93-92 road loss to Northwest Missouri State University. And confidence, according to head coach Robert Corn, is a must now that the team is in the final month of the season, and struggling for position in the conference tournament.

The first half started out fast paced for both teams. As Southern and PSU traded baskets for most of the half, the physical play in the post began to escalate. Both teams’ post players were constantly fighting for position, and at times it got a little out of hand.

Finally, the physical play came to a climax when Lion forward Deon Rose and PSU guard Jamey Richardson began shoving and shouting at each other after a Richardson foul. Both players were charged with contact technical fouls. The double technical foul call was the turning point in the first half.

“That call put Richardson on the bench with four fouls early in the game and gave us a little boost we needed,” Corn said.

After the technical, Southern began building a lead and eventually led by as much as 14 in the first half. The half ended with the Lions leading by a score of 46-32.

In the second half, PSU came out and quickly cut the Southern lead to only six, but Southern kept a firm grip on its lead the entire second half.

“Each time they got close, somebody stepped up and hit a big shot for us or came up with a defensive stop,” Corn said. “It has been that way all year long for us.”

Behind the leadership of junior guard Ameer Watts, the Lions held off the PSU surge.

“Ameer has been a leader for this team since day one,” Corn said.

“The players respect him and listen to him. He is so good at getting everyone involved and making sure the team does the right thing on the court.”

The Lions were led offensively by sophomore guard Hiram Ocasio with 19 points. Not far behind Ocasio were Watts and senior forward Jamahr Warren with 17 and 15 points respectively. Rose was also in double digits with 11 points.

The Lions will be back on the road Saturday to take on Emporia State. Emporia State is one of the co-leaders in the conference and has beaten Southern once this year.

“Emporia is playing extremely well as a team this year, and they have some very good individual players,” Corn said. “We just have to be ready to play and compete so we can get the job done. Especially on the road.”