As reflected in their season records, there are similarities between the 4-10 Missouri Southern Lions and 3-11 Lincoln Blue Tigers during the women’s basketball season.
The Lions are shooting 30 percent from 3-point range to Lincoln’s 21 percent, and the Lions have averaged 18.5 turnovers, just over one more than the Blue Tigers, and both teams have negative turnover margins.
“They’ve struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter, and they’ve had the problem of turning the basketball over,” Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said. “We’ve struggled in the same two areas as well. They average about 20 turnovers a game, and they’ve played a tough schedule. Like us, they’ve played a lot of top teams in the league early. Everybody they are playing, they are right there for 2 1/2 or three quarters, and then they’ll have a quarter where they struggle kind of like we do.”
The Lions and Blue Tigers square off tonight in Jefferson City, and while Missouri Southern has won the 11 meetings, two of the last three games have required extra time. The Lions won 94-90 in double overtime at home on Dec. 7, 2017, and 81-78 in overtime one year ago in Jefferson City.
Missouri Southern registered its first conference victory of the season last Saturday 72-68 over Newman. The Lions fell behind early but recovered to build a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Jets battled back and climbed within one point, but Zoe Campbell’s 17-footer and Amber Buch’s two free throws in the final 45 seconds kept the Lions in front.
“It was great,” Ressel said. “The aspect of getting a little reward for all their hard work, I’m just happy for our kids to be able to find that success and finally get that win that we so desperately needed.
“Playing in front of your home crowd, you are always wanting to win. We were able to accomplish that against a quality team.”
Lincoln is seeking its first league win after Saturday’s 82-60 loss to league-leading Central Missouri.
“They are athletic, and they like to get to the basket,” Ressel said. “They have one guard, Kaloni Pryear, is getting about 16 (points) a game, and everything is downhill for her. She’s an athletic, strong guard. She’s only 5-6, maybe 5-7, but she gets to the boards as well. She’s averaging 4.6 (rebounds) but three of those are on the offensive end. She’s very aggressive getting to the basket, and she hangs around and goes to the boards extremely hard.
“As a team, they do that as well. So we’re going to have to make sure we box them out because they are getting after it.”
Both teams hold rebound advantages over their opponents — MSSU at 2.7 and LU at 3.3. The Lions average 69 points and give up 69.8 while Lincoln has scored 61.8 and allowing 70.6.
“We have to keep them out of the paint because they like to get downhill,” Ressel said. “And we have to rebound the basketball. We have to make sure we don’t give them second, third and fourth opportunities.
“Offensively we have to take care of the basketball because they are creating a lot of turnovers. They’ll play some zone, they’ll play some man. We have to recognize and make sure we attack.”
Chasidee Owens and Destiny Cozart average about 15 points per game to lead the Lions. Campbell adds 11.3 points, and her 42 blocked shots lead the conference and tie the single-season school record.
Mo. Southern (4-10, 1-5 MIAA)
F Chasidee Owens, 5-10 sr.15.3
C Zoe Campbell, 6-3 jr.11.3
G Destiny Cozart, 5-8 sr.14.9
G Layne Skiles, 5-10 so.6.6
G Amber Buch, 5-7 so.6.0
Lincoln (3-11, 0-5 MIAA)
F Alecia Gulledge, 5-11 sr.7.0
F Vivian Chigbu, 5-11 jr.12.1
F Virja Lewis, 6-0 jr.4.6
G Natasha Elliott, 5-11 fr.5.4
G Nathash Dolinsky, 5-8 jr.5.8
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m.
Site: Jason Gymnasium, Jefferson City
Last game: MSSU 72, Newman 68; Central Missouri 82, Lincoln 60
Coaches: Ronnie Ressel, 4th year at MSSU (40-61). Ayana McWilliams, 4th year at LU (22-73).
Series: MSSU leads 34-5 after last season’s 81-78 overtime victory in Jefferson City. The Lions are 15-4 on the road against the Blue Tigers.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 5:10 p.m.