Lions end 4-game road trip at Henderson State

Missouri Southern’s Brooke Stauffer (13) splits Graceland defenders Shauna Reitan and Kailey Boden (33) during their game earlier this month in Joplin.Globe file

The Missouri Southern women’s basketball team will wrap up a four-game road trip at Henderson State tonight, with tipoff slated for 5:30 p.m. inside the Duke Wells Center in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Tonight’s nonconference clash will be a rematch of the season opener that saw the Reddies top the Lions 79-70 on Nov. 8 at Harding University’s Big Red Challenge in Searcy, Arkansas.

“We’re excited about it,” Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said of the rematch. “We know they’re playing really well, and they shoot it well. We’re going to have to do a good job of keeping them in front of us and closing out on their shooters.”

The Lions are now 2-4 on the season, while Henderson State of the Great American Conference is 4-1.

In the first meeting, the Lions trailed 42-27 at halftime before an 11-3 burst in the third quarter trimmed the deficit to single digits. Southern closed the gap to four in the final frame before the Reddies used a 13-4 surge to pull away for good.

“Our transition defense was not very good in that game,” Ressel said. “We gave up a lot of transition points. They’re a good shooting team, and we did a poor job defensively.”

The Reddies connected on 17 3-pointers in Saturday’s 89-71 win over Arkansas Tech. Hailey Estes scored 26 points with eight treys, while Pink Jones handed out 14 assists.

The Lions are coming off a dominant 75-56 win at Rogers State on Saturday in what was a nonconference clash between MIAA foes.

Southern held the Hillcats to 31% shooting.

“We played so much better defensively,” Ressel said. “Our position defense was better. We didn’t allow a lot of drives to the basket, and our transition defense was pretty good. It was better than it had been in the previous games.”

The Lions led by 11 at the half but used a 29-7 third quarter to pull away for good. Southern stretched the lead to 35 with 9:43 remaining.

“We got off to a good start to the third quarter,” Ressel said. “We made a nice push to extend the lead. It was because of our defense. We got some steals and easy baskets. And we did a good job of handling their press and getting out in transition.”

Senior guard Destiny Cozart scored 18 and senior guard/forward Chasidee Owens added 16 for the Lions. Junior center Zoe Campbell contributed 11 points and nine boards and sophomore guard Layne Skiles chipped in 10 points. Owens is now averaging 16.7 points per game, while Campbell (14.7) and Cozart (13.8) are also scoring in double figures.

Ressel hopes his team can duplicate Saturday’s solid performance.

“It was a confidence boost to win on the road on Saturday,” Ressel said. “It was a nice win, and hopefully it carries over for us.”

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