Lions clamp down defensively and defeat Evangel 79-43

Emporia, Kan. - The Missouri Southern women's basketball team closed the first half on an 11-1 run and led 43-19 at the break, as the Lions cruised to a 79-43 win over Evangel University in the opener of the Emporia State Tip-Off Classic tonight.

Southern (1-1) improves to 1-1 on the season and the 36-point win is the largest margin of victory for the Lions since 2006 when Southern defeated Webster University by 50 (86-36). Evangel (4-1) came into the game ranked 24th in the NAIA national poll.

Jasmine Lovejoy and Jolea Apon led the Lions with 13 points each, while Michelle Hedgecock scored 12 and Randi Henderson added 11. Hedgecock added seven rebounds, while Erin Rice had a game-high nine boards and scored six points. Afton Baldwin and LaTice Jones scored nine and eight, respectively, while Myriah Hicks added five points and six rebounds.

The Lions opened the game on a 8-2 run before the first media timeout at 14:22 of the first half. A three from Hicks made the lead 11-2, before a bucket from Evangel stopped the Lions run at 7-0. The lead reached 24-12 after a layup from Baldwin. A steal from Baldwin and a bucket from Hedgecock put the Lions advantage at 26-12 with just under five minutes left in the half.

Two free throws from Apon after a technical foul on the Evangel bench and a pair of free throws from Lovejoy on the original foul made the Lions' lead 40-18 with just under a minute to go in the half. A steal on the ensuing possession and a three from Apon pushed the lead to 43-18 with 12 seconds left. A late free-throw for the Crusaders made the halftime score 43-19.

The Lions shot 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range in the first half. Hedgecock led the Lions with ten points in the half, while Lovejoy added eight and Baldwin scored seven. The Lions ended the half on an 11-1 run.

Hedgecock opened up the second half with a bucket to make the lead 45-19. The lead grew to 30 (69-39) after a three from Henderson with 5:29 left. A layup from Jones with just under a minute made the final advantage 36 points.

Southern held Evangel to 10-44 (22.7%) shooting from the field, while the Lions shot 47 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free-throw line. The Lions out-rebounded Evangel 45-23 and forced 18 Crusader turnovers.

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow evening as Southern will take on Eastern New Mexico at 5:30 pm.