The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 12, 2014

MSSU women hope to snap losing streak

Missouri Southern regains a key player tonight when the Lions entertain Northwest Missouri State at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Junior guard Nicole Hartzog will return after missing the last three games with a knee injury. She practiced on Monday and Tuesday after a special knee brace arrived.

“It’s good that she got to go through a couple of practices with it,” Lions coach Ronda Hubbard said. “It won’t let her straighten her leg all the way out. She’s getting around really well. She shows some awkwardness in some situations. She’s a little tentative in certain situations, but that’s a matter of her getting used to being out there again and trusting the brace will hold the knee in the right place. We’re excited to have her back.”

The Lions are looking to snap a three-game losing streak, most recently a 75-67 home loss last Saturday against Central Missouri when the Jennies shot 49 percent from the field and outrebounded the Lions 36-20.

“We will not beat anyone playing the kind of defense and with the rebounding effort we’ve had the last three games,” Hubbard said. “Hopefully we will get that turned around (Wednesday) night.

“We’re giving up layups, not contesting the 3. A defensive presence we’ve lacked, we have to get it back.”

The Lions (14-6, 8-5 MIAA) beat the Bearcats 80-74 last month at Maryville in a foul-filled game that saw  59 total fouls and 84 total free throws.

Sharese Jones netted 20 points to lead five Lions in double figures, followed by Alexis Fitzpatrick with 19, Dominique Mosley with 17, Shawnee Phillips with 11 and Samantha Soyez with 10.

Ariel Easton scored 24 points and Ashleigh Nelson 16 for the Bearcats.

Since that game, the Bearcats (9-12, 6-8) have won four straight. In last Saturday’s 65-53 victory at Lincoln, the Bearcats tied their season high with nine 3-point goals, six of them by Nelson.

“Northwest is playing its best basketball right now,” Hubbard said. “It’s taken them a little bit to get used to Coach (Michael) Smith’s style. He has them playing the kind of basketball that he’s always been known for, which is great defense. They are holding opponents to unbelievable numbers in this four-game winning streak. And they are winning the battle on the boards.

“That’s always been our strength, which is something we haven’t done in the three-game losing streak. Teams are scoring a lot of points and dominating us on the boards.

“Northwest is controlling the tempo of the game, very disciplined offensively. They almost look like a completely different team than the first time we played them.”

The Lions average 73.8 points, almost 10 more than the Bearcats.

Mosley leads the way at 15.3 points, followed by Jones at 14.2, Shonte Clay at 12.5 and Hartzog at 10.6.

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