The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 13, 2014

MSSU women hang on in overtime

For Alexis Fitzpatrick, it was a game to forget and a finish to remember.

Fitzpatrick sank two free throws with 31 seconds left to give Missouri Southern the lead, then blocked a shot 10 seconds later as the Lions squeaked past Northwest Missouri State 64-60 in overtime Wednesday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Sharese Jones led the Lions with 16 points and contributed to the last-second dramatics with a steal and two clinching free throws with 3.5 seconds to play. Dominque Mosley added 12 points, and Mosley and Jones snared nine rebounds apiece as the Lions (15-6, 9-5 MIAA) dominated the boards 49-36 and snapped a three-game losing streak.

Shelby Mustain scored 13 points to lead four players in double figures for the Bearcats (9-13, 6-9). Annie Mathews had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Monique Stevens and Meridee Scott both added 10 as Northwest Missouri’s four-game winning streak ended.

The Bearcats led most of the game, shooting 57 percent (13-of-23) while building a 33-28 halftime lead. They maintained the lead for most of the second half despite making only 5-of-25 field goals.

The Lions’ shooting wasn’t much better — 6-of-22 in the second half — but they tied it 52-52 on Jones’ free throw with 20 seconds left. The Bearcats had the last shot but Stevens’ reverse layup at the buzzer was short.

The Lions scored first in overtime but then missed four shots on the inside, and the Bearcats led 60-56 after Ariel Easton’s 3-pointer with 1:16 left. Easton was held to nine points, seven below her average.

Mosley made one free throw, and Jones scored on the inside to pull the Lions within 60-59 with 50 seconds left. The Lions regained possession after the Bearcats missed and called a timeout with 31.2 seconds left. Fitzpatrick was fouled before the Lions threw the ball inbounds and made both free throws for a 61-60 lead.

“Not at all,” Fitzpatrick said concerning her confidence at the line. “I wasn’t comfortable because I had an off game. I just got up there and was hoping for the best.”

At the opposite end Stevens drove the baseline for another reverse layup, but it was blocked cleanly by Fitzpatrick, and Kenya Brown retrieved the loose ball and was fouled.

“When they didn’t call a foul, I thought get the ball, get the ball,” Fitzpatrick said about the block.

“Lex struggled a little bit,” Jones said, “but we told her that’s OK, we’re all going to have games like this. Stay focused, and we got your back.”

“I haven’t seen her play that poorly (1-for-10 field goals, 4 assists, 7 turnovers),” Hubbard said. “The first 30 minutes were the worst game she’s played, and I really think she just wanted out. It’s not my night, and nothing is changing. I sat her, and I thought we got great contributions from Kenya. … Kenya knew we needed a spark, and she did what we needed her to do.

“When I went back to Lex and said get back in, I could see a little bit of hesitancy, and then I just saw her kind of click and go. I thought she finished the game really well. She made the big plays, the big passes. Other people made the shots, but she made the big plays. She’s the one who got (Mosley) the ball. She’s the one who broke the defense down with her driving and kicking out. And obviously ‘Winkie’ (Jones) made big plays down the stretch, too.”

Brown made the first free throw but missed the second, but the Bearcats lost control of the ball, and Jones dribbled near midcourt before being fouled and making her clinching charities.

“Our point guard Kenya went in for the rebound, and the ball bounced off her fingers,” Jones said. “It hit someone’s hands on the other team, and it came toward me so I just grabbed it and dribbled out. You have to thank Kenya.”

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