By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
There are a lot of similarities between Missouri Southern and Southwest Baptist entering tonight’s MIAA women’s basketball game at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Their conference records are identical — 4-7 — and their season records are only one game apart — 10-9 for the Lions, 9-10 for the Bearcats.
“They are a lot like us. They are a good basketball team that just hasn’t found enough ways to win,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “I think they are very well-coached. They do a lot of things offensively and defensively that we’ve seen before this year, which is good.
“They are in the same boat we are. It’s an important game for both programs. Obviously there’s a lot at stake.”
Both teams have shown the ability to put high numbers on the scoreboard some nights, but both teams also have struggled to score in other games. Southwest Baptist, which averages 64.9 points, scored 91 points on Jan. 26 against Nebraska-Kearney but had 69 and 50 in its two games last week.
Jacqui Zelenka, 6-foot junior, leads the Bearcats at 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Forward Chasity Prince and guard Brittney Dukes add 11.9 and 10.7 points, respectively.
Missouri Southern averages 63.5 points and tallied 78 points twice during a four-game winning streak in early January. But the Lions have not scored more than 63 points during their current six-game losing streak, and they’ve had 55 points or less in the last four games.
“We need to shoot the ball better,” Mitts said. “We need to hit the easy shot. Whether it be a wide-open 3, a layup or a free throw, we need to become better scorers. Our defense is pretty solid right now. Our rebounding has improved. The way we execute offensively is the biggest key.”
Center Dominique Mosley and forward Erin Rice average 8.7 and 8.6 points, respectively, for the Lions, and six more players add at least five points.
Despite the losing streak, Mitts reports the players have continued to work hard in practice.
“Practice (on Tuesday) was energized and enthusiastic,” she said.
“We have 11 players who are wanting to get better, wanting to figure this out. They are trying to get better and get out of this, and that is hard to do most years. The players deserve a lot of credit.
“They have a desire to fix this. They still believe in themselves. We’ve talked about we haven’t peaked to say the least. They are looking to become a much better basketball team in the next month.”