The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 11, 2014

Southern's Phillips finds redemption

Tahlequah, Okla. — Shawnee Phillips’ best five minutes of the season could not have come at a better time for Missouri Southern.

Phillips scored baskets on the first two possessions of overtime, and she added two free throws and a steal in the closing seconds as the Lions trimmed Northeastern State 80-77 Saturday afternoon at the NSU Event Center.

Phillips, 5-foot-8 junior guard, had four points — one below her season average — in 14 minutes of regulation. And since Sharese Jones fouled out in the last minute of regulation, Phillips was on the floor at the start of overtime.

Phillips, 1-of-5 from the field in regulation, drove for field goals to give the Lions a lead they never  relinquished.

“The key in overtime was our team keeping the momentum, playing together and talking, communication,” Phillips said. “I had to work my way out. My 3-point shot wasn’t falling, so I had to fall back to driving to the basket.”

 Nicole Hartzog and Shonte Clay scored on the inside — Clay’s bucket was set up by one of Alexis Fitzpatrick’s five steals — to give the Lions a 78-72 lead with 1:18 left. But the RiverHawks’ Sarah Sagely scored five straight points, including a three-point play to cut the Lions’ lead to 78-77 with 4.8 seconds to play.

Phillips was fouled after the inbounds pass, and she made ends of the 1-and-1 free throw to make it a three-point lead. Phillips then made a steal at midcourt to secure the Lions’ second victory in 12 games against NSU.

On Wednesday night, the Lions trailed by three points when Phillips went to the line for a three-shot foul with 3 seconds left. She made one — missing the last one intentionally – and the Lions lost 62-60 at Central Oklahoma.

At the foul line on Saturday, “Of course, it definitely entered my mind,” Phillips said. “I definitely had to make up for Wednesday night. I took my time, didn’t rush my shot.”

And concerning the steal, “I just made sure I stayed down and she didn’t pass me for the open 3,” Phillips said. “Definitely we didn’t want to go to a second overtime.”

“She came off the UCO game, and she was really beating herself up,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “She was the one who turned the ball over at the top of the key. Then she gets fouled on the 3 and misses the first one. She was in all of that.

“She was in all of that — and then some — today. Every single play, she makes. To say that she learned from Wednesday night and got a chance to redeem herself, it was fun to watch. I was really proud of her.”

Shonte Clay tallied 20 points — 7-of-10 field goals and 6-of-7 free  throws — to lead five players in double  figures for the Lions (10-3, 4-2 MIAA). Jones was next with 15 points, followed by Dominique Mosley with 14, Fitzpatrick with 11 and Phillips with 10.

Che’Ron Lewis led the RiverHawks (6-7, 3-3) with 15 points, and Sarah Sagely and Chelsey Bethard added 13 and 11, respectively.

Samantha Soyez, Clay and Phillips grabbed six rebounds apiece as the Lions dominated the boards 38-22. Soyez also had six assists, and the Lions were almost perfect at the foul line – 20-of-22 to NSU’s 21-of-31.

The Lions, down 25-14 with seven minutes left in the first half, cut the deficit to 32-29 at halftime, and they scored the first six points of the second half en route to a 56-46 lead midway through the second half.

“That run at the end of the first half really propelled us,” Hubbard said. “It was during that spell that we started doing what we wanted to do defensively. They saw the success of doing that, and it carried over obviously in the second half.”

The RiverHawks answered with a 12-0 run for a 58-56 lead with 6:15 left. A seesaw affair down the stretch saw NSU lead 70-68 on two Kate Bellamy free throws with 33 seconds left, but the Lions tied it on Clay’s jumper with 14 seconds left, and NSU missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

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