The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 27, 2014

MSSU women attempt to earn postseason bye

Looking to secure the No. 4 seed for next week’s postseason tournament, Missouri Southern wraps up the regular season with a two-game road trip, starting tonight at Lindenwood.

The Lions (17-7, 11-6 MIAA) are fourth in the conference standings, one-half game ahead of both Fort Hays State and Washburn. The Lions hold the tiebreaker over both schools but need to win tonight or on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln to earn the No. 4 seed and a spot in the conference tournament quarterfinal round.

Lindenwood (14-11, 9-9) will be the No. 7 seed and host a play-in game on Monday night.

The Lions are coming off a 71-68 loss to Pittsburg State, just their second loss in 14 home games this season and a loss that knocked them out of this week’s Central Region rankings. The top eight in the region make the NCAA Tournament.

Lions coach Ronda Hubbard saw some hangover from the PSU loss early in the week, but it has since disappeared.

“The day off on Sunday is always a good way to get that out of your system,” Hubbard said. “When you put so much into something that means so much to you and don’t get the results, a lot of times you will come back a little sluggish. I felt we were a little that way on Monday, but it picked up (Tuesday).

“There is a maturity about this team. Our players understand if they don’t play  well, Lindenwood can beat them.”

The Lions beat the Lions of Lindenwood 72-61 behind 19 points from Shonte Clay, 15 from Shawnee Phillips, 10 from Nicole Hartzog and 10 assists from Alexis Fitzpatrick. Dominique Mosley’s eight rebounds paced the Lions to a 36-28 advantage on the boards.

Morgan Johnson led Lindenwood with 16 points, doubling her season average, and Kassidy Gengenbacher had 14 points.

Point guard Jenny Rocha, who had five points and six assists against MSSU, triggers the Lindenwood attack.

“In a lot of ways, Lindenwood goes the way she goes,” Hubbard said. “She’s super quick, can finish around the bucket and has a great mid-range pull-up. We need to keep her in check.

“Gingenbacher, who probably will be the conference freshman of the year, knows how to read screens as good as anyone in the league. ...If you play her one way, she goes the other way, takes what the defense gives her and scores 15 points a game doing so.”

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