By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Central Missouri’s outside sniping produced a seven-point halftime lead, and BreAnna Lewis nailed three 3-point daggers in the last nine minutes to stall Missouri Southern’s comeback bid as the No. 10 Jennies beat the Lions 74-63 Saturday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Lewis, 5-foot-7 junior averaging 15.3 points per game, popped in 6-of-13 shots from beyond the arc while scoring 22 points. A 38 percent shooter from long range for the season, Lewis hit rainbow 3s from the top of the key and the right wing on consecutive trips as the Jennies expanded a two-point lead to 60-54 with 8:10 left.
The Lions used baskets by Erin Rice and Sharese Jones to pull within 66-61 with 2:20 to play, but Lewis got wide open on the left wing and drained another 3 for an eight-point lead with two minutes left.
“(Lewis’) 3s really hurt us,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “The difference in the game was the last four minutes. Their kids made plays and ours didn’t. We were in a position to win the ball game. The three 3s by (Lewis) hurt us, and we got some looks inside that we were short on.
“I pressed tempo pretty hard for about 15 minutes at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. I really thought physically we could do some things against them, but maybe it backfired on us a bit because we seemed to not have the legs at the end to make the plays.”
Keuna Flax contributed 20 points — one below her season average — for the Jennies (19-2, 11-2 MIAA). Flax played only 22 minutes because of second-half foul trouble, but she had seven straight points during a 9-2 spurt that turned a 43-40 deficit into a 49-45 lead the Jennies never relinquished.
Senior Erin Rice made five of her first six shots and finished with 14 points to lead the Lions (11-10, 5-8). Center Dominique Mosley chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Jennies hit 7-of-14 treys — and only 3-of-15 shots inside the arc — while building a 36-29 halftime lead. But the Lions came out of the locker room with an impressive 12-2 burst in the first four minutes to claim their first lead 41-38.
Johnna tenBerge began the burst with a 3-pointer from the right side and ended it with another from almost the same spot. In between, Tee Singleton made a steal and layup, and Shonte Clay made a layin and 15-footer.
“At the beginning of the second half, we knew what we needed to do,” said tenBerge, who made 3-of-7 3-pointers for nine points. “We knew we were in the game, and it could be our game. We came in and took care of it.
“Most of them were transition. In the first half we knew transition was going to be open and we didn’t look for it as much. In the second half … it was wide open and we pushed the ball.”
“We knew the first five minutes were going to be critical,” Mitts said. “If you think about the runs they made in the first half, they were pretty explosive, and a seven-point deficit at halftime could have gone to 17 real quick. Our kids responded very well. Our game plan was to make them work, whether it was pass the ball a lot offensively or them work on defense. And I wanted to push the ball, make them hustle back on transition and try to wear them down since they only go about six deep.”
The Jennies, averaging seven 3s on the season, finished 10-of-21 compared to Missouri Southern’s 3-of-11. The Jennies also had advantages in points off turnovers (16-11) and second-chance points (13-2) despite each team having nine offensive rebounds and 35 total.