Another week and another big game for Missouri Southern’s women’s basketball team.

The Lions are home at 5:30 tonight against Northwest Missouri, looking to gain ground on the Bearcats in the standings.

With three weeks left in the regular season, the Lions (7-14, 4-9 MIAA) are 10th in the standings — 10 teams make next month’s postseason tournament in Kansas City. The Lions’ four league victories are against the four teams below them in the standings. The Lions have won their last three home games over Newman, Northeastern State and Rogers State.

Northwest Missouri (11-11, 6-7) are ninth, two games ahead of the Lions. The Bearcats and Lions meet again next Thursday in Maryville.

“Every game from here on out is going to be huge and magnified to a point,” Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said. “Especially with Northwest Missouri, who is right in front of us in the standings, they are going to be big.”

The Lions lost 71-63 last Saturday at third-place Emporia State. They trailed by 11 points early in the second half but rallied to lead by three points early in the fourth stanza before the Hornets rallied and clinched the victory with eight free throws in the final 44 seconds.

It was MIssouri Southern’s first game without season scoring leader Chasidee Owens, who injured her right knee in the previous game at Washburn. Layne Skiles, sophomore guard-forward from Purdy, responded with a career-high 20 points, more than tripling her season average. Senior guard Destiny Cozart hit five 3-pointers for 15 points, and sophomore guard Amber Buch added 12 points off the bench.

“They played their butts off on both ends of the floor,” Ressel said. “We had opportunities. You can ask for more than to have an opportunity to win a game on the road.”

Since a six-game losing streak, the Bearcats have won three of their last four games, most recently a 59-45 victory over Lincoln.

“They shoot the ball well from the 3-point line,” Ressel said. “They take quite a few 3s. They have two or three kids who can really shoot it. They play under control. They look to push it if they have numbers, and they do a good job running their offense. They have a big kid inside who know how to score the basketball. They are going to play extremely hard on the defensive end. They are going to get up and pressure the basketball, try to take things away. Austin (Meyer) does a good job of coaching them. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Guards Kendey Eaton and Jaelyn Haggard lead the Bearcats at 13.1 and 10.2 points, respectively.

OWENS UPDATE

Chasidee Owens will miss her second straight game tonight after injuring her right knee late in the first half of last Thursday’s game at Washburn.

“She went to the doctor on Monday ... feels it’s an ACL but have not done an MRI,” Ressel said. “We’ll get the MRI hopefully late this week or early next week.”

PINK GAME

The Lions will have their annual Pink Game on Saturday afternoon against Missouri Western.

The pink jerseys of seniors Destiny Cozart, Chasidee Owens and Jordan Schoenberger will be auctioned.

Tipoff is 1:30 p.m.

Probable Starters

Mo. Southern (7-14, 4-9 MIAA)

Pts.

C Madi Stokes, 6-3 fr.6.4

G Destiny Cozart, 5-8 sr.13.9

G Kai Jones, 5-6 so.3.4

G Layne Skiles, 5-10 so.7.3

G Brooke Stauffer, 5-9 jr.2.7

NW Missouri (11-11, 6-7 MIAA)

F Paityn Rau, 6-2 fr.6.6

F Mia Stillman, 5-11 jr.4.2

G Jaelyn Haggard, 5-5 jr.10.2

G Kendey Eaton, 5-6 sr.13.1

G Erika Schlosser, 5-9 sr.6.6

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