Joplin, Mo. - Coming off a tought loss last Saturday at home to Emporia State, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team looks to bounce back Thursday evening welcoming MIAA newcomer Central Oklahoma to Leggett & Platt Athletic Center for Senior Night at 5:30 p.m. Matching up with the MIAA newcomer Bronchos for the first time since 2005, the Lions will look to send senior forward Erin Rice out with a win in her final game at Leggett & Platt.
The Lions last time out (11-12, 5-10 MIAA): Despite a valiant comeback that saw the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team come out of the locker room at halftime on a 16-0 run, Southern was unable to overcome a large first half deficit falling short at home tonight to Emporia State 62-55.
Falling behind by twenty at halftime, the Lions would come out of the locker room after the break on a 16-0 run to close the margin to four (39-35), holding the Lady Hornets scoreless over the first seven and half minutes of the second half to get back into the contest. The run would feature six points from Erin Rice, while getting contributions from three other Lions, including five from Samantha Soyez.
The Lady Hornets would respond with three quick layups to get re-gain a ten point lead (45-35) which they would hold until the 3:18 mark of the second half when the Lions would go on a 7-2 run to close the gap within five (58-53), but that would be as close as they would get as the Lady Hornets would answer with four points to take home the seven-point win. The Lions would commit a season-high 32 turnovers leading to 36 points for Emporia State. Despite outscoring the Lady Hornet's bench 33-9, the absence of leading scorer Dominique Mosley was felt in the inside as Emporia outpaced the Lions 36-30.
The Bronchos last time out (9-13, 2-12 MIAA): Central Oklahoma stayed close most of the way, but could never get over the hump and Emporia State pulled away down the stretch for a 73-60 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association victory Wednesday night (Feb. 13) at Hamilton Field House.
The Bronchos were within four at 60-56 with 6:10 left to play before ESU used its free throw accuracy to put the game away, hitting 9-of-10 foul shots down the stretch.
The Lady Hornets ended up hitting 20-of-21 free throws (95.2 percent) for the game in improving to 15-6 on the year and 10-3 in the MIAA. UCO fell to 9-13 and 2-12. Alyssa Fuxa was 8-of-9 from the line in a 13-point outing while adding seven rebounds to pace the Bronchos. Britney Morgan had 12 points, with McKenzie Solberg and Whitney Dunn scoring 11 apiece off the bench.
The Coaches: Maryann Mitts is the winningest coach in Missouri Southern history. Under Mitts' guidance, the Lions have averaged 17 wins during her 11 years at the helm and have finished in the upper echelon of the highly competitive Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association seven of those 11 years. In 16 years as a collegiate head coach, Mitts has amassed an impressive 13 winning seasons. Notable, the Lions have also narrowly missed the NCAA post-season tournament in six of those 11 years. Overall, Mitts has compiled a 186-144 (.564) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 269-200 (.574) mark in 17 years as a collegiate head coach. Mitts currently ranks amongst the Top 50 of all Division II active coaches in all-time victories.
Guy Hardaker is in his seventh year as Central Oklahoma's head women's basketball coach turning the Bronchos into a perennial NCAA Division II national tournament contender. A member of the UCO Athletic Hall of Fame, Hardaker took over the helm in 2006 after a highly-successful stint as boys high school basketball coach and is 135-68 in seven years with the Bronchos.
The Series between the two schools: MSSU leads the overall series with UCO 12-6 with their last meeting coming eight years ago in Joplin on November 19, 2005 with the Lions topping the Bronchos 81-75 at the Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Classic. The Lions are 6-1 at home against the Bronchos with their lone loss coming in 1991.