The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 4, 2014

Five Lions score in double figures in win

With the teams combining for just three field goals in the closing minutes, Missouri Southern and Fort Hays State competed in a free-throw contest.

And the Lions could not have been happier.

The Lions, although shooting slightly below their season percentage, made enough charities to beat the Tigers 76-71 in MIAA women’s basketball action at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Sophomore Sharese Jones scored a game-high 18 points to lead five players in double figures for the Lions (9-2, 3-1 MIAA). Shonte Clay was next with 14 points and eight rebounds, Nicole Hartzog scored 13 and Samantha Soyez and Dominique Mosley added 12 points apiece.

Hartzog, who also had four steals, scored all her points from the foul line, and her 18 attempts were three shy of Anita Rank’s school record set in 1987. Jones sank 11-of-15 free throws, and the Lions finished 32-of-43 from the foul line while the Tigers were 22-of-41.

During the last five minutes, the Lions were 6-of-12 at the foul line to the Tigers’ 3-of-10. Entering the game, the Lions were hitting 77 percent as a team from the foul line while the Tigers were at 69 percent.

There were 54 fouls called — 29 against the Lions — and three players on each team fouled out. After post players Clay and Mosley exited, that left the Lions’ 5-foot-9 Kristen Hanna guarding the Tigers’ 6-4 Nicole Lehman until Lehman fouled out in the waning seconds.

“The way the officials were calling the game ... I knew they were going to call it the same way at both ends,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “... And I knew if it became a free-throw shooting contest, we would win.”

Lehman and Katelyn Edwards scored 17 points apiece for the Tigers (8-2, 2-2), but they combined for 15 of the team’s 19 missed free throws. Lehman also had 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Tigers entered the game leading all of Division II in assist-to-turnover ratio, and they had outrebounded their foes by 11 per game.

However, the Lions, receiving eight rebounds from Clay and six from Hartzog, outrebounded the Tigers 43-39. And the Tigers had 20 turnovers — eight more than their season average — and 15 assists.

“Rebounding was stressed all throughout practice,” Jones said. “We have to box out because they are taller than us. So we have to push out, and I think we executed that real good.”

“Rebounding and post defense were huge goals,” Hubbard said. “It’s what we’ve been working on all week. We felt Emporia took it to us on the boards. It was almost an embarrassment because I know we’re a better rebounding team than that, but yet when it got so physical, we backed down.

“Today when the game got physical, we were going to get in there and battle, and that’s what I felt we did.”

The Tigers scored the last eight points of the first half to lead 39-34 at the break, and it was 60-53 after Lehman’s layin with 9:45 left. But Fort Hays State made only one field goal the rest of the game — Taylor Chandler’s layup after a steal with 24 seconds left.

“I believe it was us as a team, coming together as one and communicating,” Jones said. “We wanted to make sure we stayed focused.”

“We got into a situation where we felt we needed to play both of our post players together,” Hubbard said. “And at times, we had ‘Winkie’ (Jones) out at the 3, and that forced them to play a lineup that they are not used to playing. At first (Edwards) was posting up our smaller guard,  so we went with an offense to create nothing but postups and cuts to the bucket. That’s where we got a lot of the fouls obviously, but on the defensive side of things, it took away what they were having success doing.”

The Lions made two field goals in the last five minutes. Soyez’s 3-pointer from the top of the key put MSSU ahead to stay, 68-66, with 4:28 left, and Mosley scored off a pass from Alexis Fitzpatrick for a 71-67 lead with 2:40 to play.

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