The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 6, 2013

MSSU women seek better start against No. 20 Washburn

Missouri Southern overcame a dismal start on Thursday night to rally for a 76-72 victory over Nebraska-Kearney to begin MIAA play.

Needless to say, the Lions need a better performance from the opening tip when they battle No. 20 Washburn at 1 p.m. today in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

“We’re not going to be afforded to let up the first six minutes of the game and expect to be able to come back from that,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “Washburn is too good of a team.”

The Ichabods — no longer the Lady Blues — have consistently been at or near the top of the MIAA standings. They have won the MIAA regular-season title the past two seasons, giving them 13 regular-season and nine postseason titles since joining the MIAA in 1989-90.

The Ichabods have been ranked in 177 of the last 178 national polls dating back to the third week of the 2002-03 season. The final poll of the 2010-11 season was the last time Washburn was not ranked.

Washburn coach Ron McHenry has won 347 games in his 14 years since serving as an assistant under men’s coach Bob Chipman. McHenry’s .826 winning percentage is the highest among active Division II coaches with at least 10 years experience.

Washburn won its MIAA opener 78-71 on Thursday night at Southwest Baptist behind career nights from Brittney Lynch and Casyn Buchman. Buchman tallied 27 points — seven above her season average — and she’s made 27 straight free throws since Nov. 16. Lynch set career bests of 20 points and 17 boards — the most rebounds by a Washburn player during the past 11 seasons.

“They are an amazing team as always,” Hubbard said. “Their tempo ... we were getting beat down the floor on Thursday night, it’s something we really have to pay attention to on Saturday.”

The Lions have won six straight — their longest winning streak since they won seven in a row in January 2009.

Center Dominque Mosley is right behind Buchman in the league scoring race at 19.9 points per game. Guards Sharese Jones and Nicole Hartzog average 15.9 and 10.9 points, respectively.

“The thing I like is they go eight players (deep) pretty much and we go eight players. In that regard, depth is the same on both ends,” Hubbard said. “Their leading scorer is a guard versus ours being a post player, but they have really good post players, too.

“I hope it’s going to be a really good matchup. I’m excited to see how our team responds against a team of that caliber.”

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