Lions continue to win conference games in crunch time


Molly Schons/The Chart

Senior Lex Fitzpatrick (left) prepares for a pass to Senior Jolee Sharp (right) in the Lions game against Lindenwood on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. The Southern Lions pulled out a close win with a final score of 68-63.

Missouri Southern’s women’s basketball team was back in action last weekend against conference opponents Southwest Baptist and rival Pittsburg State University (Kan.). The Lions (19-6, 13-5 MIAA) currently sit fourth in the conference standings, having already clinched a spot in the MIAA tournament in Kansas City.

The Lions squared off against Southwest Baptist first in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions won the first meeting between the two schools this season in Bolivar, Mo., 79-61 on Jan. 29.

Southern scored the game’s first 10 points to set the tone early. The game was tied at 16-all at the 6:50 mark, before the Lions would go on a 12-6 run to end the half and take a 28-22 lead.

Fast forward to the second half. With 49 seconds to go, SBU hit a three to take a one-point lead, 55-54. Camila Lacerda hit a running jumper in the lane to put the Lions back up 56-55 on the ensuing possession. Nic Hartzog gathered the rebound and was fouled with 4.8 seconds to go after a SBU missed shot. Hartzog would nail both free throws, securing a Lions victory, 58-55.

Hartozg led the way in scoring with 14. The Lions shot 43.8 percent from the field.

Next up was a date with the #7 ranked Gorillas of PSU in John Lance Arena in Pittsburg, Kan.

“Like Coach Hubbard always says, ‘Respect all, fear none,’” said Tami Morice. “And we don’t fear PSU.”

PSU led 23-22 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Lions would close the half on a 7-4 run and a three from Jordan Dinyer as time expired, giving the Lions a 29-27 lead at the break.

A three from Shawnee Phillips gave the Lions an eight-point lead, their biggest lead of the game, (54-46), with 6:52 to go. PSU tied the game again at 54 with 4:11 to go. Both teams traded buckets the rest of the way and were heading to overtime.

PSU missed a three-point attempt that would have given them a one-point lead. Dinyer pulled down the rebound with just over 10 seconds left, getting fouled on the play. Dinyer hit one of two free throws and PSU converted on a put-back with just 1.9 seconds to go, 70-68. Two more made free throws from Hartzog secured the victory for the Lions, 72-68.

Three Lions scored in double figures, led by Hartzog with 18. The Lions shot 41 percent from long range while out-rebounding PSU 42-41.

“This win was incredible,” said Morice. “I didn’t really know how big of a rivalry this was until after the win. I realized what it meant to not just us but for the whole town of Joplin. It meant a lot to have our crowd there. I love being a Lion.”

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow on senior day against Lincoln (Mo.) inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.