The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 14, 2014

Henry: Lions hand NSU first men's loss in RiverHawks' new arena

Missouri Southern had to wait more than 13 years, but the Lions’ men’s basketball team delivered some payback last weekend at Northeastern State.

In November 1999, Missouri Southern began playing in the brand-new Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. The Lions went 18-0 at home that season, and they won their home opener the next season before Northeastern State handed the Lions their first loss in the LAPAC 63-55 on Nov. 28, 2000.

This season Northeastern State has a new basketball home — the NSU Event Center. The RiverHawks won their first seven games in the $17 million arena before suffering their first loss — 80-65 to Missouri Southern on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions’ women’s basketball team also found NSU’s new basketball arena to its liking, posting an 80-77 overtime decision over the RiverHawks. It was the third home loss for the NSU women and the second in overtime.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Lions had almost as much success on the road against NSU as they had in the RiverHawks’ former home, the Jack Dobbins Field House. The Lions won only three games total at NSU before Saturday — 2-12 for the men’s team, 1-10 for the men.

Saturday’s games had more in common for the Lions than the final point total.

Both MSSU teams got off to slow starts, falling behind by 11 points in the women’s game and seven points in the men’s game. But the women rallied to trail by only three points at halftime, and the men turned things around to lead by eight at the intermission.

Both teams started the second half strong, building leads of 10 points in the women’s game and 17 points in the men’s game midway through the second half.

Both teams dominated the rebounding — 38-22 in the women’s game, 43-25 in the men’s game. The MSSU women had advantages of 11-2 in offensive rebounds and 14-2 in second-chance points, and the men’s totals were 13-7 in offensive boards and 17-6 in second-chance points.

Both teams received strong play off the bench. In the men’s game the Lion reserves outscored NSU 32-16 and outrebounded them 14-5. The MSSU women were outscored 27-26 in bench points, but the Lion reserves were solid on the defensive end, including a 13-9 rebounding edge.

Bench play was vital for the Lions because both teams fouled too much — 26 fouls apiece for the women and men.

The RiverHawks attempted more free throws in both games but the Lions had better percentages at the charity stripe – 20-of-22 for MSSU and 21-of-31 for NSU in the women’s game, 18-of-24 for MSSU and 20-of-28 for NSU in the men’s contest.

During the past week, the Missouri Southern teams bounced back from disappointing losses.

The Lion men beat Central Oklahoma and NSU by double digits on the road after a 76-67 home loss to Fort Hays State on Jan. 4.

The overtime victory by the Lion women at NSU came three days after a 62-60 loss at Central Oklahoma and gave them a 1-1 record for the road trip.

As the MIAA basketball race approaches the midway point, the Lions are second in the men’s standings, one-half game behind the winner of Monday night’s makeup game between Northeastern State and Northwest Missouri State in Maryville. The Lions are fifth in the women’s standings, one-half game behind Fort Hays State.

The Lions play three of their next four games at home, starting Wednesday night against Lindenwood. They have Saturday afternoon home dates against Lincoln and Missouri Western sandwiched around a Jan. 22 trip to Northwest Missouri.

 

 

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