Women nail down MIAA tourney bid

Jim Quist/The Chart Senior forward Nichole Helfrich goes for a lay up in Southerns 92-87 OT win over Southwest Baptist. Helfrich had a career-high 23 points.

Jim Quist

Jim Quist/The Chart Senior forward Nichole Helfrich goes for a lay up in Southern’s 92-87 OT win over Southwest Baptist. Helfrich had a career-high 23 points.

Cody Thorn

Thanks to a win in overtime Saturday over Southwest Baptist, the Missouri Southern women’s basketball team punched its ticket to the MIAA Tournament next month in Kansas City.

The Lions won its seventh straight game, but did so in dramatic fashion, at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, winning 92-87. The game was set as side as Breast Cancer Awareness Night

MSSU trailed at halftime, 33-31, but came back with 46 points in the second half to force overtime.

Southern had very balanced scoring, with five players scoring in double figures. Nicole Helfrich scored 23 points, while Danielle DeVader tallied 20 points in the game for Southern. Lindsey Davis tallied 17 points and Myosha Barnes scored 16 points. Michelle Hedgecock chipped in with 10 points off the bench.

“The win was important because we had such a solid week, winning at Central Missouri on Saturday,” said women’s Head Coach Maryann Mitts. “We would’ve nullified that if we would’ve lost at home. Southwest Baptist played an outstanding game. They came in with a great game plan, but we had players step up and make plays.”

The win secures Southern a spot in the MIAA Tournament, which starts March 5, along with Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn.

“It is nice in one regard because it is a goal marked off the chart,” Mitts said. “It’s good to get to Kansas City and do so in January, that is quite an accomplishment.

“This team has lofty goals, bigger than getting to Kansas City. We look at it in the regard getting Kansas City is just one stepping stone.”

Southern now turns its attention to Missouri Western, where the team plays Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

MWSU started the season 0-13, but now sits at 2-17 after securing wins over Southwest Baptist and Truman State. The Lady Griffons came close to wins along the way, including a 58-57 loss to MSSU back on Dec. 31.

Western’s top player this year is freshman forward Jessica Koch and sophomore forward Tierra Ford. Koch is leading the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game, while Ford is contributing 11.3 points per game.

Ford is leading the team with 5.6 rebounds per game, while Koch is pacing the team in assists.

Despite the 2-11 mark in league play, Southern isn’t overlooking the Lady Griffons.

“We have no right to overlook anyone, look at the game Missouri Western played here,” Mitts said. “I don’t think the team is overlooking anyone right now. We understand we need to play great basketball and focus on winning no matter who we are playing.”