Facing a must-win situation about 10 months ago, Missouri Southern went to Nebraska-Kearney and posted a 59-56 victory to earn a spot in the women’s MIAA Postseason Tournament.
This year’s journey to Kearney comes much earlier in the season for the Lions, but the game still carries a lot of importance as the Lions are seeking their first conference victory.
The Lions (3-8, 0-3 MIAA) will be looking for a better start tonight against the Lopers. Missouri Southern trailed 21-12 after the first quarter and 41-25 at halftime on Saturday afternoon en route to a 75-59 setback at No. 16 Fort Hays State on Saturday.
“I thought the kids who played continued to fight, but we have to start that way,” Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said. “We have to start the ball game off better. We’ve had several ball games where we didn’t start very well, and most of it to me is on the defensive end. We’re not doing a good job defensively.”
The Lopers (12-2, 1-2) saw an eight-game home winning streak end on Saturday with an 88-74 loss to Pittsburg State. The Lopers certainly grabbed attention last month when they began league play with a home victory over Fort Hays State.
“They had a good year last year,” Ressel said. “They had a bunch of freshmen who now are sophomores and have been through the league. Carrie (Eighmey, coach) does a great job with them. They are going to be tough, especially at home.”
Guard Haley Simental, a 5-foot-8 graduate student, tallied 24 points against the Gorillas, doubling her 12.1 season average. Sophomores Megan Holt and Brooke Carlson average 11.1 and 10.4, respectively.
The Lions committed 24 turnovers — their second-highest total this season — and that led to a 31-2 advantage in points off turnovers for the Tigers.
“It’s not just one person,” Ressel said. “It’s a variety of people. We had turnovers up and down the lineup. We have to do a much better job of being strong with the basketball, and we didn’t do that. And that’s my fault. I have to make sure we do a better job in practice.”
Seniors Chasidee Owens and Destiny Cozart average 15 points apiece for the Lions, and junior Zoe Campbell adds 12.5.
After tonight, the Lions have home games against Central Oklahoma on Thursday night and Newman on Saturday afternoon.
Mo. Southern (3-10, 0-3 MIAA)
F Chasidee Owens, 5-10 sr. 15.4
C Zoe Campbell, 6-3 jr. 12.5
G Destiny Cozart, 5-8 sr. 15.3
G Layne Skiles, 5-10 so. 7.1
G Amber Buch, 5-7 so. 6.2
Neb.-Kearney (12-2, 1-2 MIAA)
F Maegan Holt, 6-0 so. 11.1
F Klaire Kirsch, 5-11 so. 7.0
C Brooke Carlson, 6-1 so. 10.4
G Haley Simental, 5-8 gr. 12.1
G Kelsey Sanger, 5-8 jr. 6.1
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m.
Site: Health & Sports Center, Kearney, Neb.
Coaches: Ronnie Ressel, 4th year at MSSU (40-58). Carrie Eighmey, 5thh year at UNK (70-53).
Series: MSSU leads 20-16.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 5:10 p.m.