The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 25, 2014

Reserves playing big role for Lions

Key minutes help MSSU to 13-3 record

Missouri Southern’s bench players continue to play a big role in the Lions’ 13-3 record this season.

In Wednesday night’s 80-74 victory at Northwest Missouri State, the reserves had to play additional minutes after four of the five starters picked up two fouls in the first half. In fact, the reserves played 53 minutes in the first half — six more than the starters.

The Lions received double-figure scoring off the bench from Dominique Mosley (17 points) and Shawnee Phillips (11). They along with Kristen Hanna, Kenya Brown and Tee Singleton combined to claim 16 of the Lions’ 35 individual rebounds.

“We’ve had a lot of good play off the bench,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said.  “ ‘Domo’ (Mosley) started early in the year … I don’t consider her and Shonte (Clay) bench players.

“It was really everybody. Kristen Hanna gave us some solid minutes in the first half. Shawnee ended up playing the most minutes (33). Kristen, Kenya, Tee, Shawnee ... those are the players who have to give significant minutes if we are going to continue to get better as a team.”

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Lions are off to a 13-3 start for just the second time since making consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 1993 and 1994. Six seasons ago the Lions won 13 of their first 16 games and finished 18-10.

The Lions are third in the MIAA standings at 7-2, trailing eighth-ranked Central Missouri (9-1) and No. 2 Emporia State (8-1). On Wednesday night Emporia State suffered its first loss of the season, 59-44 at Emporia State, and Central Missouri overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to win at Lincoln 71-70.

The Lions play at home for the final time this month this afternoon when Missouri Western comes to the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Griffons (7-9, 2-7 MIAA) are coming off a 63-38 nonconference victory over Missouri Valley on Tuesday night. In their last conference action, the Griffons won 73-63 at home over Southwest Baptist.

“We’ve challenged our team to not look at records,” Hubbard said. “Our motto this year is respect all but fear none. Don’t look at records, and really assume the team you are playing is a very good team. The scores of the games (Wednesday night) prove that.”

 It was a tale of two halves offensively for the Lions in their victory over Northwest Missouri. They shot 31 percent from the field and scored 29 points in the first half, but the numbers increased dramatically to 62 percent shooting and 51 points in the second half.

The Lions were successful getting the ball inside in the second half, which resulted in better looks at the basket and multiple trips to the foul line. The Lions shot 26 field goals and 28 free throws in the second half. Fourteen charities came in the last two minutes when the Bearcats fouled to stop the clock.

The Lions went 28-of-45 at the line for the game, just one attempt shy of the school record set against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 1988 and tied against Drury in 2001.

“Our players at halftime felt they were getting the raw end of the deal on the officiating, and the fouls were 15 (against MSSU) to 14,” Hubbard said. “The officiating was consistent at both ends. The difference was (the Bearcats) were going hard and aggressive to the basket in the first half, so they were getting to the free-throw line and we were not. We were shooting jump shots over them instead of being aggressive and going to the rim like we did in the second half.”

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