Don’t be fooled by Washburn’s 3-4 season record.
“They have a 3-4 record, but three of their four losses are to Fort Hays (State), Nebraska-Kearney and Central Missouri,” Missouri Southern women’s basketball coach Ronnie Ressel said. “And they were all decent ball games.”
The Lions resume their road trip tonight against the Ichabods in Topeka. It’s just the second game for both teams since mid-December.
The Lions (4-4) are seventh in the conference standings, one-half game ahead of Washburn. Eight teams advance to the MIAA postseason tournament in March.
The Lions saw a four-game winning streak end with Saturday’s 70-67 loss at Pittsburg State. MSSU led 38-28 at halftime and maintained the lead until the Gorillas ran off 15 straight points spanning the final minutes of the third quarter through the start of the fourth quarter.
“We did some really good things, especially the first half,” Ressel said. “We executed offensively, and I thought defense was really good. Then in the second half it kind of flipped. We missed some shots, and defensively we did not do a good job of keeping them in front of us and we let them go on that big run at the end of the third (quarter), beginning of the fourth.
“We made some mistakes that hopefully we can correct and do a better job defensively. Our execution was decent. We just have to be able to knock some shots down. We had several good looks that just rimmed out. Several of our turnovers were in crucial situations that kept their run going a little bit. And (PSU) is good.”
Guard Carley Turnbull led the Lions with 18 points, two above her team-leading average. Freshman guard Kaitlin Hunnicutt contributed a season-best 15 points, boosting her season average to 9.6.
Post players Zoe Campbell and Madi Stokes had eight and six points, respectively, and eight rebounds apiece. Stokes, who sat most of the first half after two early fouls, leads the conference in rebounds (10.5 per game) and blocked shots (22).
Washburn is coming off a 61-49 triumph last Saturday at Missouri Western behind senior guard Hunter Bentley’s nine rebounds and season-high 27 points, almost doubling her average. The Ichabods led 2-0 before the game started after two charities for an administrative technical foul, and the lead ballooned to 18-2 midway through the first quarter.
‘‘Hunter Bentley is back and leading them in scoring at 15 a game,” Ressel said. “They have a Division I transfer (from Idaho State) in Nuria Barrientos at 11 (points per game) who can really score the basketball. And then they have a freshman point guard (Mackenzie Gamble) who is really quick and really does a good job. She reminds me of Reagan Phelan (a standout WU guard the previous four seasons) as far as her tempo, how fast she can get up and down the floor and how she sees the floor.
“They are going to be a challenge. They get the ball up and down the floor pretty quick in transition. That’s going to be a big key for us, making sure we get back on defense and keep them in front of us and don’t give them too many open looks because they can shoot so well at home.”
“If we come out and compete like we did against Pitt for 40 minutes, I like our chances,” Ressel said. “The transition defense will be important, and take care of the basketball because they turn people over pretty good.”
MSSU vs. Washburn
MISSOURI SOUTHERN (4-4)
F Carley Turnbull, 5-10 sr.15.6
F Layne Skiles, 5-10 jr.6.8
C Madi Stokes, 6-3 so.8.0
G Megan Jackson, 5-6 sr.2.9
G Brooke Stauffer, 5-9 sr.5.4
F Abby Oliver, 5-10 so.7.6
G Mackenzie Gamble, 5-7 fr.3.5
G Hunter Bentley, 5-9 sr.15.1
G Nuria Barrientos, 5-11 jr.11.7
G Macy Doebele, 5-11 so.6.4
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m.
Site: Lee Arena, Topeka, Kan.
Coaches: Ronnie Ressel, 5th year at MSSU (51-72). Ron McHenry, 21st year at WU (467-156).
Series: Washburn leads 51-28 after beating the Lions three times last season. The Lions are 11-28 on the road.
Staying up late: This is the Lions’ first night game since Dec. 3.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KSEK (1340 AM, 107.9 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 5:10 p.m.