St. Joseph, Mo. - Hitting key free throws down the stretch, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team weathered a tough Missouri Western team topping the Griffons 68-61 this afternoon at the MWSU Fieldhouse.
The Lions (16-6, 10-5 MIAA) won their second game in a row as they were led by Nicole Hartzog with 16 points. Returning for her second game since injury, the junior guard from Beaverton, Ore., went 13-of-16 from the charity stripe, tying her career-high for most free throws in a contest. Forward Dominique Mosley continued her stellar play scoring 15 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the field. Sharese Jones and Shonte Clay also scored in double figures finishing in 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Lions shot 18-39 (46.2%) from the field, and were frequent participants at the free throw line connecting on 29-of-40 (72.5) from the charity stripe.
The Griffons (9-13, 4-11) were led in scoring by Sharniece Lewis with 21 points (7-8 FG) before fouling out. Alexis Gray added 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Western shot 18-49 (36.7%) from the field, including only 5-of-25 (20%) in the second half. They got to the free throw line 34 times, but only hit 21 of them for a 61.8% clip.
Southern jumped out to an early 12-6 lead five minutes into the contest getting scores from five different Lions. After a Mosley jumper gave the visitors a eight-point lead at 16-8 with 13:48 to play in the first half, the Griffons turned up the defensive pressure and went on a 13-7 run to cut the lead to two with just under eight to go. Reeling off seven straight points in a 2:35 span, that featured a pair of free throws from Jones, a jumper from Clay and downtown trey from Alexis Fitzpatrick gave Southern held a 30-21 edge with 5:30 to play in the first half. Unfortunately, it was all Griffons for the rest of the half as they ended on a 19-6 run, including the final four of the half, to take a 40-36 lead at the break.
Western continued to lead for the first seven minutes of the second half before Hartzog knocked down a pair of free throw to even the game at 46. After a layup by Western's Gray tied it up at 50 with 7:19 to play in regulation, Lions went on a quick 7-0 run in 1:50 to re-capture a lead they would not relinquish. That run featured a three-pointer from Shawnee Phillips, three free throws from Jones and one from Fitzpatrick. After a layup by Lewis cut Southern's lead to four with 3:18 to play, the Lions went 9-for-9 from the line down the stretch to sealed the 68-61 win.
The Lions edged Western in boards 33-32, but had a rough day in the turnover department committing 25. Southern dished 12 assists, swiped six steals and blocked five shots.
Southern returns to action at home on Wednesday hosting Southwest Baptist (10-12, 5-10) at 5:30 p.m. at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.