Apon comes alive in second half to lead Lions past Gorillas, 72-57

Joplin, Mo. -- Jolea Apon followed up on her career-performance last Saturday night (Feb. 6) by catching fire in the second half to the tune of 23 points and 7-of-7 from three-point distance to lead the Missouri Southern Lions to a 72-57 victory over the Pittsburg State Gorillas in a Sonic Trophy Series showdown Wednesday evening (Feb. 10) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions trailed 39-33 when Apon nailed her first trey of the half and then started a 12-0 run with the Lions trailing by five with another three.

A layup by Michelle Hedgecock tied the score and two free throws from Jasmine Lovejoy gave the Lions their first lead of the second half.

Another three from Apon and a jumper from Randi Henderson capped the run and put the Lions up 48-41 with 11:39 left.

Four free throws by Nicole McCombs brought the Gorillas to within three but the Lions pulled away with an 11-0 spurt for their biggest lead to that point at 59-45 with 8:10 left.

After DePrice Taylor hit a jumper to momentarily trim the lead to 12, Apon again hit from long-distance for a 15-point lead at the 7:30 mark.

The Lions maintained at least a double-digit lead the remainder of the way. 

Michelle Hedgecock made her presence felt early by scoring the Lions' first eight points of the game for an early 8-5 advantage.

The Lions led 12-9 off a three from Jolea Apon when the Gorillas ripped off eight straight behind four points from Drew Roberts to lead 17-12 with 13:20 left in the opening half.

Jasmine Lovejoy drove in for a layup and split a pair of free throws that brought the Lions to within two before a three by Amanda Orloske quickly put the Gorillas back up by five.

Another layup by Lovejoy and two freebies brought the Lions to within a point at the 8:53 mark of the first half.

Nicole McCombs then made it a four-point PSU lead with a three-point play, but Hedgecock answered right back with a three-point play of her own and then a layup that put the Lions back in front 24-23 at the 6:00 mark.

The Gorillas then regained the lead on a jumper by Roberts and a pair of free throws from Whitney Conerly to lead by three and went on to lead by that margin at 31-28 at the half. 

Apon shot 9-of-13 overall and 8-of-11 from three-point distance.  Hedgecock finished one point shy of her career-high with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.  Lovejoy also reached double-figure scoring with 13 points and dished out a career-best seven assists.  LaTice Jones finished with a team-high nine rebounds.

McCombs was the lone Gorilla in double-figures with 16 points. 

The Lions overcame an early rebounding disadvantage to out-rebound the Gorillas 22-11 in the second half for a 38-30 overall edge on the boards.

The Lions also shot a scorching 64 percent (16-of-25) in the deciding second half, while limiting the Gorillas to only a 28.6 percent (8-of-28) shooting clip. 

Southern will now travel to Emporia, Kan. for a matchup with the current No. 10-ranked Emporia State Lady Hornets on Saturday evening (Feb. 13) at 5:30 p.m.  The Lady Hornets squeaked by the Lions 55-52 in the two schools' first meeting this season (Jan. 6) in Joplin.