The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 14, 2014

Adversity toughens Southern women

Missouri Southern’s two games last week in Oklahoma followed remarkably similar patterns.

One week ago in Edmond, the Lions led Central Oklahoma by seven points at halftime and nine points in the opening minute of the second half, only to see the Bronchos rally and come up with a steal and two free throws in the final seconds to win 64-62.

Last Saturday afternoon in Tahlequah, the Lions rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to lead Northeastern State by 10 points midway through the second half. The RiverHawks rallied to take a two-point lead late, but this time the Lions made plays down the stretch and eventually won 80-77 in overtime.

The Northeastern State game had a very similar feel to the Central Oklahoma game,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “We had to face adversity in both games, and the adversity we did not overcome at Central Oklahoma we did overcome at NSU. We were able to learn from the things that happened at NSU. We made the plays we had to make to win last Saturday.”

Last week’s split on the road left the Lions (10-3, 4-2 MIAA) in fifth place in the conference standings, one-half game behind Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State and one-half game ahead of Central Oklahoma and Washburn.

The Lions play three of their next four games at home, starting tonight against Lindenwood.

Lindenwood’s Lady Lions (8-6, 3-4) are tied for eighth place in the league with Northeastern State and Nebraska-Kearney. Lindenwood hasn’t played since last Saturday’s 99-76 loss at Fort Hays State, dropping Lindenwood to 0-3 in 2014.

“They have a lot of different sets they like to run,” Hubbard said. “Their post players are capable of doing a lot of things. They are pretty diverse in their ability to score. They are very active and athletic. “They have a guard who is really good.

“It’s going to be a good matchup, I think they look a lot like us on paper. It will come down to who defends the best and who rebounds the best.”

Missouri Southern is averaging 74.5 points per game and allowing 66.0. Lindenwood’s numbers are a little higher — 77.4 points scored, 72.0 allowed.

Senior center Shonte Clay scored 20 points to lead the Lions against Northeastern State, including the game-tying field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. Her defense also prevented the RiverHawks’ post player from getting off a shot in the final seconds.

“Shonte played one of her best games,” Hubbard said. “I thought she played good on both sides of the ball.”

Samantha Soyez, who continues to be the MIAA assist leaders, had six assists and six rebounds. A strong bench contribution was led by Shawnee Phillips (10 points, six in overtime) and Kristen Hanna (four rebounds).

“Kristen Hanna was huge at NSU,” Hubbard said. “She played hard, gave us a spark. She’s a real vocal leader, too.”

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