The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 20, 2013

Lions' loss 'a punch in the mouth'

With a total of 77 missed field goals, 91 rebounds and 53 turnovers, Missouri Southern and Nebraska-Kearney obviously sputtered on offense.

But the Lopers perfectly executed two back-door cuts for easy baskets and a four-point lead in overtime and knocked off the Lions 67-60 Saturday afternoon in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions trailed 55-50 in the last two minutes, but two Shatara Stone free throws and a jumper in the lane by Erin Rice — MSSU’s first field goal in 71⁄2 minutes — sliced the deficit to one point with 28 seconds left.

Nebraska-Kearney’s Ivy Jones, who led all scorers with 18 points, made 1-of-2 free throws for a two-point lead with 13 seconds left. After a timeout, the Lions first went for the win, but Rice’s 3-pointer from the right wing pinballed out. Dominique Mosley, however, grabbed the rebound and scored just before the buzzer to force overtime.

“I wanted both scenarios, a play to tie it and a play to win it,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “It was a great 3. It went halfway down I thought, and (Mosley) did a great job of getting the rebound and putting it back in. We definitely had the momentum there.”

The game was tied at 58 and 60 in overtime — the last time after Rice’s layup after a midcourt steal with 2:36 left. That was the Lions’ lone basket in 11 attempts in overtime.

On its next two trips, Nebraska-Kearney got the ball inside for baskets by Shelby Zimmerman and Laramey Lewis and 64-60 lead with 1:56 left.

“They were denying us hard the entire game,” Lopers coach Kevin Chaney said. “We turned the ball over, we got jump balls. And that’s the exact reason why I called that timeout because in order for us to get them off, we have to go backdoor. We did it, and it worked right when we needed it to.”

“It was a great game. It went right down to the wire. They got that offensive board and took it into overtime. Most teams would be depressed. We kept fighting, and it’s hard to do that on the road.”

“I thought we had them (entering overtime),” Mitts said. “The first play of the overtime, we fumble the pass. Those are the little mistakes we make that are hurting us.

“And you have to credit them — baseline drives, touches in the post, us fouling them ... all the things we shouldn’t have done defensively, we did.”

Guard Nicole Hartzog scored 11 points — all in the first half — and was the lone player in double figures for the Lions.

Missouri Southern (10-5, 4-3 MIAA) shot a season-low 28 percent (18-of-64) from the floor, including 6-of-29 from the post position.

“I thought we got out-physicaled in the post,” Mitts said. “We weren’t going up strong. You have to hit the three-foot shot, and we just didn’t do that.”

Nicole Arp and Zimmerman added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Lopers (5-10, 2-6), who shot 39 percent (21-of-54) and owned a 48-43 rebounding advantage. The Lopers had 28 turnovers, five more than the Lions.

For the second straight game the Lions trailed 21-8 in the middle stages of the first half, but Hartzog scored nine points as the Lions outscored the Lopers 22-7 in the last 7:25 of the first half to lead 30-28 at the break.

But the Lions first field goal in the second half didn’t come until the 10-minute mark.

“We got what we deserved,” Mitts said. “The loss was something we deserved. We did not deserve to win this ball game. ... This is a punch in the mouth. This is a big lesson. We have a decision to make on which direction we’re going to go. Our schedule doesn’t get any easier.”

The schedule resumes Wednesday night at Emporia State.

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