Though still slowed by a knee injury, Kai Jones brings an outside shooting threat to Missouri Southern's offense.
Jones, 5-foot-5 sophomore guard, set season and career bests with three 3-point goals and nine points in the Lions' 92-64 home victory over Rogers State last Saturday afternoon.
Amber Buch, like Jones a sophomore point guard, also set a career high with 15 points against the Hillcats, hitting 7-of-9 shots.
"You look at our two point guards, we had 24 points, seven assists, two steals and three turnovers," Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said. "If you can get that out of your point guards, that's pretty solid. I was pleased with that.
"Kai is more offensive-minded than Amber most times. She's a good shooter, but she gets us a little faster at times when we're a little sluggish. She does a good job of pushing the ball and attacking because she can get downhill. Hopefully we can get her healthy."
A torn meniscus at the beginning of the season has limited Jones to eight games this season. She's averaging 3.9 points in 12.9 minutes, and she's shooting 41 percent overall from the floor and 50 percent (7-of-14) from the 3-point arc.
"Since I arrived her, I really wanted to help out the team," Jones said. "I'm blessed with this opportunity to continue to play basketball here."
After seeing film on Jones, Ressel invited her to come to the Lions' elite camp the summer before her senior year in Pinkerington, Ohio.
"She came here, and I liked what I saw both offensively and defensively," Ressel said. "She played on a good high school team. Four of her teammates went mid-major or higher in Division I. She was going against good competition every day in practice."
"After going through the elite camp, I cam back for an official visit and I loved it here," Jones said. "The environment here, I felt it was very family-based on my visit. To me it felt like everybody had the same goal."
After gettting two home victories last week that moved them up to 10th place in the MIAA standings, the Lions have another key game tonight at Washburn.
The Ichabods (11-9, 5-6) are tied with Northwest Missouri (10-10, 5-6) for eighth place, one game ahead of the Lions (7-12, 4-7). The Ichabods are coming off an 83-68 loss last Saturday at league-leading Central Missouri.
"They are really wanting to get the ball up and down the floor," Ressel said. "They really want to get in transition. They're main scorers are perimeter kids — (Reagan) Phelan, (Shelbe) Piggie and (Hunter) Bentley. They get out and run, shoot the 3 very efficiently. All three of those kids are mid- to upper 30s (percent) as far as shooting the 3. They are looking to get to the basket in transition and kick out for 3s if they don't have layups, which is a big concern of ours.
"We have to make sure we get back in transition, keep the ball in front of us and get out to shooters."
The Lions scored a season-high 92 points in their last game and shot a season-high 55 percent, including 8-of-18 from distance.
"We've been shooting the ball pretty well the last couple of games, shooting it well in practice," Ressel said. "Hopefully that carries over to the rest of the season. Layne (Skiles) and Amber (Buch) and Kai (Jones) and Destiny (Cozart), all those kids are starting to shoot the ball better from the 3."
Mo. Southern (7-12, 4-7 MIAA)
F Chasidee Owens, 5-10 sr. 15.1
C Zoe Campbell, 6-3 jr. 10.4
G Destiny Cozart, 5-8 sr. 13.7
G Layne Skiles, 5-10 so. 6.5
G Amber Buch, 5-7 so. 6.5
Washburn (11-9, 5-6 MIAA)
F Hayley Thompson, 6-0 sr. 5.8
G Reagan Phelan, 5-6 sr. 12.2
G Alexis McAfee, 5-8 sr. 9.3
G Mia Castaneda, 5-6 sr. 6.9
G Hunter Bently, 5-9 jr. 13.1
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m.
Site: Lee Arena, Topeka, Kan.
Last game: MSSU 92, Rogers State 64; Central Missouri 83, WU 68
Coaches: Ronnie Ressel, 4th year at MSSU (44-62). Ron McHenry, 20th year at WU (457-148).
Series: Washburn leads 49-28 and has won four straight after an 83-76 victory Dec. 7 in Joplin. The Lions are 9-31 on the road against the Ichabods.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 5:10 p.m.