Home court proves advantageous again

The Southern womens basketball team takes on Missouri Northwestern State on Wednesday, January 21 in Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Molly Schons/The Chart

The Southern women’s basketball team takes on Missouri Northwestern State on Wednesday, January 21 in Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Missouri Southern’s women’s basketball team currently sits fourth in the MIAA standings. The Lions (13-5, 7-4 MIAA), understand the importance of these late season conference games and take no conference opponent lightly.

“In this conference, anything can happen,” said Sharese Jones. “It’s any team’s ballgame to win so we just have to take it a game at a time and focus on playing the Missouri Southern way.”

The Lions welcomed Northwest Mo. State to the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center last Wednesday. The Bearcats haven’t won in Leggett & Platt in their last four tries.

It was a back and forth first half between both teams. For the Lions no player scored in double figures in the first half, while as a team the Lions shot 43.5 percent and lost the turnover battle. Ariel Easton of the Bearcats led all scorers with 13 points and would prove to be a handful for the Lions all game.

The second half was a barnburner. With 4:38 remaining in the half and trailing by five, the Lions went on a 6-0 run to regain the lead by one (58-57) after a three from Shawnee Phillips. Easton would give the Bearcats back the lead on a layup with 1:28 remaining. Nic Hartzog hit two clutch free throws with 28 seconds left to put Southern up again (60-59). From there they were able to secure the victory and escape the upset the Bearcats had brewing.

Phillips finished the night tying a career-high with 17 points on 4-6 from the field and 3-5 from long-range. Jones scored 12 and added 11 boards for her fifth double-double of the season, while Hartzog added 11 points, three assists and three steals.

“Having a crowd like the one that packed Leggett & Platt on Wednesday amplifies our energy on the court substantially,” said Jordan Dinyer.

The Lions then took to the road to battle Mo. Western State. The Griffons, have lost six of their last seven and haven’t beat the Lions on their home court since 09.

The first half ended 26-26 as the Lions shot 34.5 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the free throw line.

The Lions found themselves in another close one late in the second half. The Lions tied the game at 56-56 with 2:01 remaining. Western answered with a 5-0 run to close the game and pull off the upset over the Lions.

Jones led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds. Camila Lacerda added nine points and three assists for Southern, while Hartzog added eight points.

Southern will be back in action in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center tomorrow to take on Central Missouri at 5:30 p.m.