Missouri Southern has shot 45.5 % from the field the last two games, and it made 55.2 % of its shots four games ago.

That's half of the Lions' best six shooting games for the season, and they have displayed a balanced scoring attack in recent games.

“I think we like that,” senior guard Destiny Cozart said after Thursday night's 67-61 victory over Northwest Missouri. “It keeps other teams on their toes. Also everybody has confidence in everybody. Everybody has been practicing shots during the week.”

“We all enjoy it because when other teams scout us, they can’t say this is their main scorer,” redshirt freshman center Madi Stokes said. “You have to guard everybody.”

“It’s fun to watch these kids,” Lions coach Ronnie Ressel said. “They are shooting good percentages, and we’re always talking to our kids about being consistent as far as making shots, and I thought (Thursday night) we were consistent throughout. We didn’t go on any huge drought ... the second quarter we didn't shoot it well but neither team shot it well. The third quarter and fourth quarter, we shot a good percentage.

"That will be the key for the rest of the year. We need to stay consistent as far as shooting the basketball."

Today the Lions are facing one of the MIAA's best defenses when they play host to Missouri Western at 1:30 p.m. on Robert Corn Court.

The Griffons (17-6, 9-5 MIAA) rank third in the conference in field-goal defense (37.9 %), and the Lions (8-14, 5-9) are next (38.4). Missouri Western also is third in field-goal shooting (45.1 %) and fourth in steals at almost 10 per game.

"They are scary from the aspect they are so athletic," Ressel said. "They have bigs who can score. They have kids who can shoot it from the 3, and they have a couple of them who don't need much room to shoot it and are shooting good percentages.

"But the thing that scares you more is their transition, how fast they get up and down the floor, especially from defense to offense. They look to push it and attack the rim. We're going to have to do a great job (1) of taking care of the basketball because they create turnovers with their defense. And then (2) we have to get back (on defense) and get matched up and find people because they can score so quick."

Forwards Corbyn Cunningham and Chris Wilson lead the Griffons with 15.1 and 14.5 points, respectively. Cunningham is one of the league's best shooters, hitting 56 percent from the field.

The Griffons are coming off a 74-71 loss Wednesday night at Pittsburg State, being outscored 12-4 in the last three minutes. Missouri Western in 8-4 in its last 12 games, including a 67-57 victory over league-leading Central Missouri last Saturday. The Griffons' last four losses have been by four points or less.

The Lions led Northwest Missouri 32-26 at halftime, and they withstood comebacks by the Bearcats early in the third quarter and late in the fourth quarter.

"That's huge for our confidence," Ressel said. "So our belief now is we can do it whereas before we had some times when we had a game like that, we've lost those games. We found a way to win (that) game. Now we've proved to ourselves we can win a close ball game and play from ahead. We made buckets when we really needed to make buckets. We had several different kids score at crucial times."

Destiny Cozart led the Lions with 21 points against the Bearcats, raising her average to 14.2 points. Madi Stokes had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Kai Jones added 11.

Probable starters

Mo. Southern (8-14, 5-9 MIAA)

F Layne Skiles, 5-10 so. 7.1

C Madi Stokes, 6-3 fr. 6.7

G Destiny Cozart, 5-8 sr. 14.2

G Kai Jones, 5-6 so. 4.1

G Brooke Stauffer, 5-9 jr. 2.7

Mo. Western (17-6, 9-5 MIAA)

F Chris Wilson, 5-10 sr. 14.5

F Kylee Williams, 5-7 sr. 7.0

F Corbyn Cunningham, 6-0 jr. 15.1

G Anastacia Johnson, 5-8 sr. 9.9

G Katrina Roenfeldt, 5-6 sr. 10.8

Game Notes

Tipoff: 1:30 p.m.

Site: Leggett & Platt Athletic Center

Coaches: Ronnie Ressel, 4th year at MSSU (45-65). Candi Whitaker, 1st year at MWSU (17-6).

Series: Missouri Western leads 54-33 after last season's 69-57 home victory.

Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KSEK (1340 AM, 107.9 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 1:10 p.m.

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