The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 23, 2014

Lions go inside, take down Bearcats

MARYVILLE, Mo. — In a game that had a not-so-good half followed by a much better half, Missouri Southern’s stronger inside game propelled the Lions past Northwest Missouri State 80-74 Wednesday night at Bearcat Arena.

Sharese Jones, Shonte Clay and Dominique Mosley combined for 56 points as the Lions (13-3, 7-2 MIAA) notched their fourth consecutive victory. They also combined for 19 rebounds as the Lions dominated the boards 40-30 for the game, 19-9 in the second half.

“We weren’t doing so good on the outside,” Jones said. “We had to find a different way, which was attack the basket and get fouled. We all three did that, and everybody else did a good job of attacking the boards and making sure we got fouled so we could go to the free-throw line.”

Jones, a sophomore, led the Lions with 20 points, and seniors Clay and Mosley scored 19 and 17, respectively. The trio had 15 points at halftime but combined to made 14-of-20 shots in the second half. As a team the Lions shot 62 percent (16-of-26) in the second half after hitting just 31 percent in the first half.

“We were moving the ball really well,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “They were guarding us in a way that we had not been guarded this year. … After a few possessions, we got into the groove of what we needed to do.”

In addition to cold shooting, the Lions got into foul trouble as six players had two fouls at halftime. Naturally part of the halftime talk was to cut down on the fouls.

“That was a big message, to stop our fouls and to make sure we cut off the baseline because that’s where we struggled the most tonight,” Jones said.

“And be aggressive going to the rim,” Hubbard said. “We were settling for little 12-foot jumpers, and we weren’t going to get to the free-throw line with those. If they were going in, that was great, and we did make some of them. But when we weren’t, it was one and done, and we were headed to the other end. That was the big talk at half.”

The Lions took control with an 9-3 run in less than a two-minute span for a 69-61 lead with five minutes left on a 3-pointer by Shawnee Phillips, who scored 11 points. Clay scored the first six points on two free throws and two short jumpers, the first set up by a pass from Alexis Fitzpatrick.

Guard Nicole Hartzog scored 10 points, giving the Lions five players in double figures.

“When they went to that zone, we got real stagnant,” Hubbard said. “We went to our five-man motion man offense against the zone. They got a little confused, and ‘Lex’ did a great job. I would have never assumed she had zero points. I thought she played a great basketball game. She seemed to be involved in every play, so to see her not even score shows her unselfishness in how she made sure the right people had the ball at the right time.”

From that point the Bearcats never got close than five points despite the Lions’ problems at the foul line. They were just 5-of-14 at the line in the last two minutes, 2-for-8 in the last 51 seconds and 28-of-45 for the game.

“Every road win is a great win,” Hubbard said. “I don’t care how we get it, it’s an important step to where we are going. I was proud of our kids for making the adjustment against the zone, of the way the game was being called and being more aggressive and going to the bucket.”

 Appropriately the game was tied at 29 after a first half that saw both teams struggle offensively from all spots on the floor, combining for only 14 field goals while committing 29 fouls and 20 turnovers.

The Lions went 8-of-26 from the field, 2-of-8 from 3-point range and 11-of-17 at the line, and the Bearcats were 6-of-21 from the floor, 2-of-6 from the arc and 15-of-23 at the line.

Guard Ariel Easton captured game honors with 24 points for the Bearcats (5-12, 2-8), and guard Ashleigh Nelson scored 16.

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