Lions push to postseason tournament

Renfroe Jan31

Renfroe Jan31

Ian Taylor, Sports Editor

The Lions (14-7, 8-4 MIAA) get the tough stretch run of the season back under way tomorrow as they look to avenge their most recent MIAA defeat at the hands of Central Missouri (17-4, 8-4 MIAA).

This game, like all the rest until the end of the regular season, carries an extra amount of pressure as Southern continues to fight its demons in pursuit of more consistency.

Southern, statistically, has been feast or famine throughout the year, ranking in the top three in both defensive field goal percentage (42.8 percent) and three-point defensive percentage (30.4 percent), but, while the other teams have trouble from the field, they still find a way to put up lofty numbers. That point is proven by the Lions’ rank in scoring defense, where they are 10th, giving up 72.1 points per game, nearly eight points behind the top team (Fort Hays, Kan., 64.4 per game).

At this point, the Lions are 1-3 against the five teams above them in the conference rankings, with losses going to Nebraska-Kearney, Lindenwood, and now to the defending National Champions of Central Missouri.

Southern still has a bright conference future. Four of the next seven contests pit them against the opponents they are behind in the rankings, giving the team an opportunity to find a rhythm before entering the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City, a place where the Lions were able to put everything together a year ago.

“It will take what our team is full of and it is heart,” said senior Lane Barlow. “Digging deep within ourselves and believing in ourself when no one else will.”

For Southern, the offensive end is key. The recent emergence of junior Taevaunn Prince has carried the team through the middle of the season, but with the stiffest competition of the year staring Southern in the face, the team may have to find more consistent production from its role players, such as junior guard Austin Wright.

On a team ranked 11th in three-point shooting percentage, Wright remains a beacon of hope. Much like last season, he shoots at a high level from behind the arc, coming in at second in the conference rankings (49.1 percent).

Wright and the Lions will have their first opportunity at retribution tomorrow as they travel to Mule country to take on Central Missouri for the second time, with  coming at 3:30 p.m.