December 5, 2009

First-half drought dooms Lions in 71-58 loss at Central Missouri

Warrensburg, Mo. - The Central Missouri Jennies snapped the Missouri Southern Lions' five-game winning streak with a 71-58 win Saturday afternoon (Dec. 5) in Warrensburg, Mo.

Things started out well enough for the Lions as they grabbed an early 8-4 lead on the strength of a three by Jolea Apon and the first career three from Michelle Hedgecock.

The Lions extended that lead to 14-6 on a layup from Apon and consecutive layups from Jasmine Lovejoy at the 14:00 minute of the first half.

But that's where things went south in a hurry for the Lions (5-2, 1-1 MIAA) as the field goal by Lovejoy would be the last the Lions would hit until only eight seconds remained in the first half.

After single free throws by Apon put the Lions up 17-9, the Jennies exploded for a 12-0 run that was capped by a four-point play by Taylor Hanson with 5:06 left in the first half.

Danielle Harris and LaTice Jones each converted two free throws that brought the Lions even at 21-21, but Brittney Slifer hit a three that was sandwiched around six made free throws that gave the Jennies a nine-point advantage at 30-21 with just 1:12 remaining in the first half.

A layup by Erin Rice ended the Lions' field-goal drought at the eight second mark that pulled the Lions within 32-25 at the half.

It didn't take long for the Jennies (5-2, 2-0 MIAA) to seize total control from there as Rebecca Roberts nailed a jumper and Meghan Waggoner hit a three that quickly gave the Jennies a double-digit lead at 37-25 just two minutes in the second half.

The Jennies went on to hit six of their first eight from the field to begin the second half to extend the lead to 48-29 with 14:32 remaining.

The Lions trailed 59-41 when Lovejoy and Jones helped lead one final push by combining for six points of a 7-1 surge that pulled the Lions within 60-48 at the 5:14 mark of the second half.

Jones hit two free throws to bring the Lions as close as 10 at 63-53 with 3:37 left, but the Jennies then closed the door as Deidra Dace hit a layup to cap a 6-0 spurt that gave the Jennies a commanding 69-53 advantage with just 1:50 left.

Jones led the Lions with 12 points, including making 8-of-10 at the charity stripe. Lovejoy finished with 10 and a game-high seven rebounds.

Waggoner scored a game-high 16 for UCM and was the only one to reach double-figures for the Jennies. She also finished tied for the team-lead with five rebounds.

The Lions will next play a non-conference matchup at Missouri S&T (formerly Missouri-Rolla) on Wednesday evening (Dec. 9) at 7 p.m. in Rolla, Mo. The Lions defeated the Lady Miners last season 75-69 at the MSSU Thanksgiving Classic in Joplin.