The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 15, 2012

MSSU women fall to Harding

The Joplin Globe

SEARCY, Ark. — The Missouri Southern women couldn’t overcome a career game from Harding’s Kristen Celsor on Saturday.

Celsor, a junior, poured in a career-high 33 points and Harding handed the Lions a 72-53 loss at Rhodes Field House.

It was MSSU’s second straight loss after the Lions had reeled off six straight wins. They fall to 6-3 and are now idle until a Jan. 3 MIAA trip to Northwest Missouri.

The Bisons hurt Missouri Southern in the post where Celsor and Arielle Saunders teamed up to take 26 shots and score 43 points.

“That really hurt,” MSSU coach Maryan Mitts said. “When you allow them to take 26 shots in the post, that makes them hard to defend. We didn’t do a good enough job down low.”

The Lions got just 11 points from its starters. Erin Rice came off the bench to score 10 points, a total matched by Shatara Stone.

“Our starters have struggled the last two games with having a flow offensively,” Mitts said. “We continue to turn the ball over too much. We had 25 (Saturday) after having 24 at Truman. We’re struggling with poor decision making and that continues to be our downfall.”

Of those 25 turnovers, 17 were Harding steals. Mitts said that can be attributed to a lack of patience.

“We were throwing the ball to a spot and not to a person,” she said. “We made a lot of poor decisions.”

Harding grabbed a quick 10-3 lead and took a 30-18 advantage into halftime. The Lions trailed by 10 early in the second half before the Bisons erupted and ran to a 70-42 lead with 4:22 remaining.

Nicole Hartzog had seven points and five steals for the Lions, while Sharese Jones had nine points and three rebounds. Those two, along with Stone, were the bright spots for MSSU, Mitts said.

“I thought those three played excellent basketball games,” she said.

The Lions shot just 35 percent from the field (18-of-51) and hit just one of their 10 shots from 3-point range. Harding outrebounded MSSU 33-21 and had 17 assists to MSSU’s six.

“We have to improve on all of the little things,” Mitts said. “We didn’t finish strong on layups, we didn’t play defense, our rebounding has to get so much better.

“That’s the way we’ve won games in the past — defense and rebounding. We have to get back from break and rely on that again.”