Maryville, Mo. - Using a balanced scoring attack that saw five Lions finish in double figures, the Missouri Southern women's basketball held off the hard-charging Northwest Missouri Bearcats for a 80-74 victory tonight at Bearcat Arena.
Winning their fourth straight game, the Lions (13-3, 7-2 MIAA) were led in scoring by sophomore guard Sharese Jones who finished with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Jones also grabbed six rebounds and went 7-of-10 from the free-throw line. Shonte Clay added 19 points and six rebounds of her own while Dominique Mosley chipped in 17 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Mosley was nearly perfect from the charity stripe hitting 9-of-10 from the line on the evening. Shawnee Phillips and Nicole Hartzog also each finished in double figures as they recorded 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Bearcats (5-12, 2-8) were led in scoring by Ariel Easton with 24 points, while getting more than half of her points at the free throw line hitting 13-of-18 from the charity stripe. Ashleigh Nelson added 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. The Bearcats got to the free-throw line 39 times in the game hitting on 26 for a 66.7% clip.
As is typical in the MIAA, a physical game was to be expected, and this game was no different as both teams combined for 59 fouls and 84 free throws attempts on the evening. Southern jumped out to an early 11-4 lead after the first six minutes of play, but the Bearcats answered right back with seven straight points of their own to deadlock it at 11.
A pair of free throws from Mosley and back-to-back layups from Hartzog and Mosley gave Southern back the lead at 17-11, but again Northwest responded with a 7-2 run to close the gap back to one (19-18). After Kenya Brown hit a free throw for her only point of the evening to give Southern a 29-26 edge, the Bearcats' Monique Stevens hit a three-pointer with three seconds to play in the first half tying the game at 29 as both teams went to the locker room. Neither team particularly shot the ball well in the first half as Southern went 8-26 (30.8%) while Northwest went 6-21 (28.6%).
With both teams continuing to battle, neither side backed down in the first 12 minutes of the second half as Southern held a narrow 58-57 lead. After a free throw from NWMSU's Easton made it a 60-58 game, Clay answered with a pair of free throws and a layup to open up a six-point lead with 6:23 to play. After a three-pointer by Phillips extended the Lions lead to 69-61, Southern closed out the game with nine free throws and a layup from Mosley to take home the 80-74 victory.
Both sides shot the ball much better in the second half as the Lions finished the game 24-of-52 (.462) from the field, while the Bearcats shot 21-of-47 (.447). Southern got the free throw line 28 times in the second half alone, 45 for the evening, hitting on 28 of them for a 62.2% clip. The Lions held the advantage in boards grabbing 40 to the Bearcats 30, including 16 offensive boards leading to 13 second chance points.
Southern returns to action at home on Saturday when they host the Missouri Western Griffons (7-9, 2-7) at 1 p.m. at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.