By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
So much for the old coaching cliché about taking it one game at a time.
With the MIAA’s new basketball schedule this year having many games on Thursday and Saturday, there’s less preparation time for the second game.
“Now we have to prepare for both teams Sunday through Wednesday,” Missouri Southern coach Maryann Mitts said. “We have to have both scouting reports ready, and as a coaching staff we really can’t focus on just one team. We have to focus on two teams.
“It’s different, and we just started. The physical recovery time for our players ... we have to come back (on Friday) and it can’t be a light practice. The change in how we’re playing the league is definitely not a benefit to the coaches or the players in the league.”
Fresh from a 64-55 victory over Northwest Missouri on Thursday night to start the new year, the Lions are back in action tonight at home against Missouri Western.
“I know our coaching staff will prepare us for this one,” Lions point guard Tee Singleton said. “It will be a quick turnaround, but we will be ready.”
The Griffons (9-2, 2-1) also started 2013 successfully with a 78-76 decision at Central Oklahoma — their first road victory in two seasons. Point guard Lanicia Lawrence sank four free throws in the last 18 seconds to cap a 12-point, 12-assist performance.
Heather Howard, 6-foot-3 senior transfer from Oklahoma State, had 24 points and 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double this season. She leads the Griffons at 13.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Missouri Southern’s point guard also had a good night as Singleton hit all five shots from the floor while scoring 13 points. She also was instrumental in the Lions reducing their turnovers to eight in the second half — 10 fewer than during the first 20 minutes.
Erin Rice, Shatara Stone and Jolee Sharp added 10 points. Rice has joined the school’s 1,000-point club and has 1,010 entering tonight’s game.
In addition to cutting down the turnovers, the Lions picked up the defense during the second half, limiting the Bearcats two only two free throws during a 7 1/2-minute stretch.
“First of all we kept the ball out of the post,” Mitts said. “In the first half we were playing behind the post, and every time they caught it, we fouled.
“And I thought the pressure we put on the ball (caused) their guard play to be from the free-throw line extended and higher. We kept them so away from the basket that any shot they did take, they weren’t strong shots. And our rebounding was good. They didn’t get second and third attempts. They were one-and-done. When that happens, then we can run our transition game.”