Joplin, Mo. -- Missouri Southern senior Jasmine Lovejoy ended her final home game in style and helped lead a Lions comeback and defeat of No. 18 Northwest Missouri tonight at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Southern (17-9, 15-7 MIAA) wins its 15th game in conference play, the most ever by a Lions' squad. The Lions will finish no lower than fourth in the MIAA standings and could finish as high as third, depending on the outcome of the Emporia State - Fort Hays game tonight. Missouri Southern head coach Maryann Mitts also wins her 250th career game tonight.
Lovejoy led all scorers with 20 points on 7-10 shooting. She added seven rebounds and three assists. Erin Rice scored 18 points off the bench, while dishing out three assists and pulling down seven boards. Afton Baldwin socred 10 on 3-8 shooting from long-range, while Lindsey Rujawitz had seven boards.
Northwest (22-4, 18-4 MIAA) was led in scoring by 19 points and 10 rebounds from Gentry Deitz. Kyla Roehrig and Gabby Curtis scored 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Southern trailed by 11 at the break, but cut the deficit to six (45-39) after a pair of Larrita Gipson free-throws with 15:07 left in the second half. The Northwest lead moved to nine after a layup from Dietz made the score 49-40 with 12:21 left, but a 7-0 Lions' run capped off by a layup from Rice cut the deficit to 49-42. Baldwin added a three in the run.
The Lions took the lead when a layup from Rice made the score 54-43 at the 6:36 mark and after a pair of freebies gave the Bearcats a short-lived lead, Southern took the lead for good on a three from Gipson, making the score 57-56 with six minutes to go.
Down the stretch Baldwin made another of her three long-range shots to make the score 61-56 and the Lions went 6-8 from the free-throw line.
Southern out scored Northwest 42-23 in the second half, and out rebounded the bigger Bearcats 44-36. The Lions had 14 offensive rebounds and the Southern bench out scored Northwest 30-4 in the game.
The Lions will await their next opponent and will either face the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in next week's MIAA Tournament. Stay tuned to www.mssulions.com for news on who Southern will face off against in the first round.