Clay drops a career-high 26 points in Lions' 84-61 rout over Evangel

Joplin, Mo. - Behind a career-high 26 points from senior center Shonte Clay, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team routed the Evangel (Mo.) Crusaders 84-61 this afternoon in the final game of the Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Going 13-for-17 from the field, Clay also grabbed six rebounds on the afternoon. Junior guard Nicole Hartzog paced the backcourt for the Lions (3-1) with 19 points going a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Sharese Jones added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Senior guard Samantha Soyez added a career-high 11 assists on the afternoon while scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds.

Evangel (3-4) was led in scoring by Bailey Irvine who finished with 15 points while Emily Akins chipped in 14. Allison Swanson added a team-high seven rebounds.

After the early going of the game saw action locked up at eight apiece, a three-pointer from junior guard Alexis Fitzpatrick gave the Lions a three-point lead, but the Crusaders responded with a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 14-11.

The Lions responded with a 19-9 run over the next eight minutes getting six points from Clay to take a 30-23 lead with just over six minutes to play in the first half. Southern continued their hot play down the stretch of the first half ending the final six minutes on a 17-6 run to open up a 47-29 halftime lead. The final run saw scoring from five different Lions, including getting ten points from Clay.

Southern picked up where it left off in the first five minutes of the second half outscoring the Crusaders 14-6 to expand their lead to 25 (61-35) going 6-of-11 from the field. After a layup from Clay with 4:40 to play gave Southern their largest lead of the afternoon at 32 (82-50), Evangel finished the game on an 11-2 run to close the game.

The Lions shot 50% (34-68) from the field on the afternoon, while going 6-for-18 (.333) from three-point range and 10-for-14 (.714) from the free-throw line.  The Lions nearly doubled up the Crusaders on rebounds grabbing 43, including 20 offensive, to only 22 for Evangel. The Lions recorded 23 assists while turning the ball over a season-low 11 times. Finally, Southern was strong in the paint as they outscored Evangel 54-28.

Southern continues non-conference action on Tuesday traveling to Northwestern Oklahoma State (0-6, 0-2 GAC) to take on the Rangers at 1 p.m. in the Percefull Fieldhouse. 

2013 MSSU Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team  

Michaela Brinkley, Avila
Emily Akins, Evangel
Shonte Clay, Missouri Southern
Sharese Jones, Missouri Southern
Dominique Mosley, Missouri Southern

Note: No MVP will be selected.

Three Lions were selected to the All-Tournament team as Clay averaged 20.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games. Jones averaged 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while Mosley averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.