Lions defeat MO Western

It almost seemed like the Missouri Southern Women’s basketball team could not miss from behind the arc in Wednesday night’s first half action with Missouri Western, as the Lions took down the Griffons 67-59.

The Lion’s Erin Rice, who went 7-17 on the night including 5-8 from three-point range en route to leading her team with 24 points, had the  hot hand that helped the Lions to a 39-22 lead at the break.

Southern also played outstanding defense and did not give the Griffons many solid looks at the bucket.

“I thought our first half defense was outstanding,” Head Coach Maryann Mitts said.

“I thought we did a great job of forcing tough shots in the first half, and I thought we did a really nice job defensively.”

Missouri Western would not go quietly.

The Griffons would go on a 9-2 run around the 16 minute mark to cut the Lion lead to eight, but it was Jasmine Lovejoy’s three-point play followed by a big three from Rice to turn the momentum back around the eight minute mark.

“We’ve been behind a lot, but for the last two ballgames we’ve been ahead at the second half and we’re trying to figure out what tempo to play at,” Mitts said.

“Sometimes you play too fast and take shots too quick then you are giving them too many opportunities, but I felt like we were playing way too slow.

“We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The more we are experienced in those situations the better off we’ll be.”

The Lions closed the door on the Griffons as they widened the gap with two free-throws from Lovejoy with just over a minute to go.

Now on a two-game winning streak, Southern improves to 4-3 and 2-1 in the MIAA.

“It’s a big win for us because I think we are still trying to define ourselves,” Mitts said.

“The Central [Missouri] game could have been looked at as a fluke or a better basketball team.

“This solidifies that we are becoming a better basketball team.”

The Lions will pick up action tomorrow at 1 p.m. as they take on MIAA newcomer Lincoln (Mo), and Mitts wants her team to continue to build off the recent play.

“We knew this three game home stretch would be important for our basketball team to get off on the right foot,” explained Mitts. “We have to take care of business on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a regionally televised game and it is the 1000th game for Missouri Southern women’s basketball that has been played at this university.

“So there is a lot that goes into this game besides the fact that we want to continue this winning streak.”