By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
For almost 30 minutes, Missouri Southern sputtered on offense.
But midway through the second half, the Lions become productive on offense and pulled away for a 60-38 victory over Avila on Friday night in the Pizza Hut/Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Dominique Mosley, 6-foot-1 junior, and Shonte Clay, 6-2 junior, tallied 12 points apiece to pace the Lions (4-1) to their fourth straight victory. Mosley also had eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals, and Clay had seven boards and four steals.
This was the first time this season that they saw extended playing time together.
“That was a first and big shock.” Mosley said. “It turned out pretty good. I know that gave the coaches an idea.”
“We felt at the time we needed to get more size,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “We knew we had a mismatch at the 4 spot, whether it was Erin (Rice) or Dominique. We pulled Sam (Soyez) out of the game, Erin was in foul trouble, and tonight it ended up being those two. Our passing post to post was phenomenal tonight.”
Junior guard Johnna tenBerge contributed 10 points for the Lions, who shot 44 percent in the second half while outscoring the Eagles 35-18.
The Lions led by 15 points with seven minutes left in the first half before Avila sliced the lead to 25-20 at the intermission. Michaela Brinkley, who led Avila with 11 points, hit a 16-footer to pull the Eagles within 34-28 with 11:40 left.
From that point, the Lions scored on their next eight trips down the floor and nine of the next 10. That 20-7 burst increased the Lions’ lead to 54-35 and raised their game shooting percentage from 22 percent to 33 percent.
Clay’s two free throws began the spree before Sharese Jones connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Clay scored again on a short shot off the glass, and Kori Dodson nailed a trey from almost the same spot as Jones.
TenBerge scored on a shot from the right baseline, Clay sank two more free throws, and Mosley scored the last three field goals on layins — the first after a steal by Clay and assist from Dodson and the last two after assists from Soyez and Rice.
“At the first we were all playing as individuals,” Mosley said. “At the last we finally adjusted and got to playing as a team, team basketball. That’s what is going to make this team good.”
“I thought the last 10 minutes we finally got our offensive rhythm,” Mitts said. “Avila really did a nice job of sagging in on us. We struggled in the first half getting touches into the post, and when we did, we didn’t convert. What that forced us to do is really take a lot of perimeter shots and a lot of shots too quick in our offense. As a result we weren’t ready to rebound because our shot selection was too quick.
“The last 10 minutes we really started to move the basketball. We played more of an inside-out game where our post players got those touches. We’re a completely different basketball team when we play like that.
“I thought Dominique Mosley really did a nice job for us in the second half. She gave us the energy, and she converted on a couple of buckets that our basketball team needed to see somebody convert. That gave a lot of people a lot of confidence to continue to shoot the basketball and score.”
Pittsburg State 68, Evangel 40
Lizzy Jeronimus, 5-11 sophomore forward, poured in 29 points for No. 3 Pittsburg State (3-0).
Jeronimus hit 13-of-20 field goals and all three free throws. She also grabbed 12 rebounds and made three steals.
The Gorillas led 19-15 before outscoring Evangel 16-2 in the last five minutes of the first half.
Sierra McSpadden, a transfer from Crowder College, scored nine points to lead Evangel.