Joplin, Mo. - Despite shooting 50% from the field in the second half, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team was unable to overcome a slow first half start falling to the 24th ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas 66-63 at home tonight at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Lions (10-4, 4-2 MIAA) were led on the night by senior forward Erin Rice, playing in her final home game against the Gorillas, with 14 points and six rebounds, while guard Tee Singleton finished with 10 points. The Gorillas (11-4, 5-2) were led on the night by MIAA-leading scorer Lizzy Jeronimus, who finished with 24 points. Guard Drew Roberts finished with 13 points.
With the Lions jumping out to a 6-5 lead, the Gorillas responded with a 16-2 run before a pair of free throws from Shatara Stone and a layup from Shonte Clay stopped the bleeding for Southern. With the Gorillas extending their lead to as many as 14 (31-17), the Lions would catch fire at the end of the half closing the half on a 7-0 run, including a pair of layups from Nicole Hartzog, to go into the locker room down only seven.
The Lions continued their hot shooting out of the locker room starting the second half on a 13-6 run to tie the game at 37 before the Gorillas responded with a 13-6 run of their own to re-take a seven-point lead at 50-43 with 7:38 remaining in the game. The Lions would end the run with a jumper from Jolee Sharp, but the Gorillas would continue their hot shooting from beyond the arc to take an eight-point lead, before a Sharese Jones three-pointer cut Pittsburg's lead to five.
With Jeronimus scoring six straight points for the Gorillas, the Lions would find themselves down by nine (61-52) with 3:09 to play. Trying to battle back, a layup from Stone and a pair of free throws from Clay cut Pitt State's lead to seven, before a Singleton steal and three-pointer from Rice cut the lead to four.
A free throw from Roberts would push the Gorilla's lead back to five, but a Singleton jumper would cut the lead back to three before a jumper from the Gorilla's Brigit Hester would all but seal the win for Pittsburg State. Sharese Jones would hit a pair of free throws with a second remaining, but the Lions comeback would fall short.
The Lions shot 22-of-56 (.393) from the field on the night, including 13-of-26 from the field in the second half, but that was not enough to overcome a slow first half that saw them only shoot 9-of-30 from the field. The Gorillas finished the night shooting 25-of-47 (.532) from the field, including hitting eight three-pointers.
The Lions return to action Saturday afternoon when they host MIAA newcomer Nebraska-Kearney at 1 p.m. at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.