The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 15, 2012

Harding provides final exam for Southern women

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

— Now that all the classroom finals have been taken, Missouri Southern’s women’s basketball players face one more exam this semester.

The Lions (6-2) play a nonconference game at Harding (3-4) at 2 p.m. today in Searcy, Ark.

Harding (3-4) lost two Great American Conference road games last weekend to East Central 53-46 and Southeastern Oklahoma State 72-60. The Bison also dropped a road game to MIAA member Central Missouri 78-62.

The Bison, however, have a long winning streak at home. They have won their last 34 nonconference games at Rhodes Fieldhouse dating back to the 2005-06 season.

“This is a big test. We have to win a road game,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “I’m real excited we get to get back on the road after losing the game at Truman. I felt like we beat ourselves in three areas — turnovers, free throws and layups. Every other category we outplayed them. It’s going to be nice to see them on the road and see if we’ve tightened up our game enough to win and be successful.”

The Lions’ 72-62 loss at Truman State one week ago snapped their six-game winning streak. The Lions shot 52 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-21. However, 24 turnovers — equaling the season high — proved to be too much to overcome as Truman State held a 26-14 advantage in points off turnovers.

Finals week always produces a week of practice different from all others during the basketball season. The Lions took two days off before returning to the practice floor on Tuesday.

“The players are wrapping up the semester, taking finals and anxious to get home, and they still have a basketball game to play,” Mitts said. “This week more than ever, it’s a little more difficult to keep their focus because of all the distractions and excitement to go home and be with their families. Our practices have gotten better as the week has progressed.”

Shonte Clay, 6-foot-2 junior center, leads the Lions at 9.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. She had a team-high 10 points in the loss at Truman State but took only one shot in the second half.

Guards Nicole Hartzog and Shatara Stone, forward Erin Rice and center Dominique Mosley all had nine points at Truman.

Shana Holmes, 6-3 sophomore guard, averages 15.4 to lead four Harding players in double figures. Joining her are 6-0 junior Kristen Celsor (11.3), 6-1 sophomore Arielle Saunders (10.9) and 5-11 sophomore Montana Lewis (10.0).