Joplin, Mo. - With reigning MIAA Athlete of the Week Dominique Mosley leading the Lions with 22 points, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team opened MIAA play with a back-and-forth 76-72 win at home over Nebraska-Kearney tonight at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Lions (6-1, 1-0 MIAA ) were led offensively by Mosley, who finished 10-of-18 from the field, while Sharese Jones added 16 points and nine rebounds. Alexis Fitzpatrick chipped in a career-high 13 points, including a crucial jumper in the final minute to preserve the win. Samantha Soyez and Shonte Clay added nine points each for the Lions.
The Lopers (3-4, 0-1) were led in scoring by Amarah Williams with 22 points, who also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Sydney Seberger added 12 points and three steals for Nebraska-Kearney.
With UNK jumping out to a 13-2 lead after the first seven plus minutes of play, the Lions responded with a quick pair of layups from Jones to keep the game from getting away. The Lopers kept the pedal to the metal for much of the first half extending their lead to as large as 13 (26-13) with 7:16 to play, before the Lions responded with a 15-3 run over the next four minutes to cut Kearney's lead to a point (29-28). That run featured six straight points from Mosley as well as a three-pointer from Fitzpatrick as the Lions went into the halftime break trailing by only a par at 34-32.
After a quick layup from Mosley to start the second half tied the game at 34, both sides were very even for much of the second half as they traded the lead or tied the game 16 times in the first 14 minutes of the second half. With the scored tied at 58 with 6:08 to play, Soyez hit a jumper from the right corner and Fitzpatrick nailed a jumper to give the Lions a four-point lead.
Nebraska-Kearney continued to fight knotting the game at 64 after Sarah Hix hit a three-pointer with 3:26 to play. Southern answered the eighth tie of the game with a pair of free throws from Kenya Brown along with two more from Fitzpatrick that helped the Lions re-gain a four-point edge at 68-64.
With UNK cutting the lead to one (68-67) on a layup and free throw with 1:44 to go, Fitzpatrick hit a critical jumper in the lane with 53 seconds remaining that all but sealed the win for Southern. After Jones hit a layup, UNK responded with a layup and free throw of their own to cut Southern's lead to 72-70, but Fitzpatrick calmly nailed a pair from the charity stripe with 25 seconds to go that pushed the lead to four as they won by that margin 76-72.
Southern shot 27-of-57 (.474) from the field on the evening, and went 21-for-28 (.750) from the free throw line. They outscored the Lopers 44-34 in the paint and 29-17 off turnovers while forcing a season-high 27 turnovers and nabbing a season-best 17 steals.
The Lions return to action Saturday afternoon hosting the 20th-ranked Washburn Ichabods (5-2, 1-0) at 1 p.m. in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.