No. 7 Lady Hornets slip by Lions, 55-52

Joplin, Mo. - The Missouri Lions lost a hard-fought contest to the No. 7-ranked Emporia State Lady Hornets 55-52 Wednesday evening (Jan. 6) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Things looked bleak with the Lions trailing 53-47 with just 26 seconds left, but Erin Rice hit a layup and the Lions forced a turnover that led to another Rice three to suddenly make it a one-point game with three seconds left.

The Lions were then forced to foul Cassondra Boston, who hit both of her free-throw attempts to put the Lady Hornets back up by three.

Southern's last gasp to tie the score ended with a turnover with one second remaining.

The Lions also had to battle back from a nine-point deficit at the 11:58 mark of the second half down 44-35. The Lions out-scored the Lady Hornets 12-3 over the next nine minutes to tie the score at 47-47 on a three-point play by Michelle Hedgecock with 2:42 left.

The first half was a defensive struggle that saw the Lions shoot 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from the field and the Lady Hornets only 23.1 percent (6-of-26).

After Jolea Apon converted a pair of technical free throws for the first points of the game, Cassondra Boston connected on a three-point play and then hit from long-distance to put the Lady Hornets (13-1, 6-1 MIAA) up 6-2.

Consecutive layups from Jasmine Lovejoy pulled the Lions (8-5, 2-4 MIAA) even before Boston quickly answered with another trey with 15:40 left in the opening half.

Neither team could score again until the 12:55 mark when Jamie Augustyn made two free-throws for a five-point Lady Hornet advantage.

The Lions trailed 16-10 when Myriah Hicks hit four free-throws to start an 8-3 run to pull the Lions to within one. The Lady Hornets continued to hold a one-point lead at 23-22 at the half.

Lovejoy led the Lions with 12 points with Rice scoring 10. Hedgecock had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Lions.

Boston was the lone Lady Hornet in double-figures with a game-high 21. She only shot 5-of-15 from the field but made 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.

The Lions were tenacious throughout the contest on the boards, out-rebounding the Lady Hornets 51-31 overall with a 29-13 edge in the first half.

Next up for the Lions is another matchup with a nationally-ranked squad, this time at the No. 6-ranked Washburn Lady Blues on Saturday evening (Jan. 9). Game-time is set for 5:30 p.m. in Topeka, Kan.

The Lions and Lady Blues split the season series last year, with the Lions upsetting the then No. 3-ranked Lady Blues 59-58 in Joplin.