Joplin, Mo. - Closing out the regular season on a three-game winning streak, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team will look to keep that momentum going Tuesday evening when they host the Northwest Missouri Bearcats at 7:00 p.m. at Legett Platt Athletic Center in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.
The Lions last time out (14-12, 8-10 MIAA): Clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch helped the Lions to a 6-2 run over the final two minutes and secure a 63-59 win at Central Oklahoma today, clinching a first-round home game in the MIAA Tournament on Tuesday.
Central Oklahoma (9-17, 2-16 MIAA) led by five with 4:36 to go in the game after a layup from Hayley Bryan made the score 57-52. The Lions, however, picked up a pair of free-throws from Tee Singleton to cut the lead to three and a jumper from Erin Rice made the score 57-56, UCO, with 2:47 to play. Free-throws from Shonte Clay gave the Lions a 58-57 lead with just under a minute to play and a layup from Rice put the Lions' lead at three (60-57). Southern would go 3-4 from the free-throw line in the final 35 seconds to seal the win.
The Lions took a 38-36 lead into the locker room, but UCO took as much as a seven-point lead in the second half and led for the first 15 minutes before the Southern run to end the game. Rice led the Lions with 18 points and five rebounds, going 8-17 from the field and 1-4 from long range. Nicole Hartzog scored ten and added a team-high nine rebounds, while Clay scored nine points and added eight rebounds.
The Lions shot 39 percent from the field and made 79 percent of their free-throws. The Lions had a 22-12 advantage in bench points and scored 15 points off of 12 UCO turnovers.
The Bearcats last time out (14-12, 8-10 MIAA): The Bearcats beat #25 Truman State at home Saturday 72-65, the first time that Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team defeated a top 25 opponent at home since January 26, 2011.
With Northwest going into halftime with a 32-26 lead, the Bearcats went on an 11-1 run in the second half that gave them a 57-49 lead they were able to hold onto it down the stretch to give them the 72-65 victory.
Alexis Boeh left it all on the court in her final home game as she finished with 11 points, two rounds and one blocked shot. Tember Schechinger was 5-7 from the floor and finished with 16 points, five rebounds and got three steals.
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 189-144 (.568) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 272-200 (.576) 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.
Mark Kellogg is in his first season at the helm of the Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team after seven seasons at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. Kellogg posted a 173-46 overall record in seven seasons at Fort Lewis including a 116-23 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). He guided the Skyhawks to the last five NCAA Division II tournaments, highlighted by a national runner-up finish in 2009-10 and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2008-09.
The Series between the two schools: The Bearcats lead the overall series with Southern 23-22, but the Lions hold a 13-6 advantage at home. The Lions defeated the Bearcats in their lone matchup this year beating Northwest 64-55 at home on Jan. 3. Southern and Northwest Missouri last met in the postseason on March 6, 2008 when the Bearcats beat the Lions 74-66 in overtime in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament.