Joplin, Mo. - Despite four players in double figures, the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 71-68 defeat this afternoon to Pittsburg State on Senior Day at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
In seniors Dominique Mosley, Shonte Clay, Tee Singleton and Samantha Soyez's final game at home as Lions, Southern led by two at halftime, but could not hold off a late charge by the Gorillas as they narrowly lost to their rival in this year's Sonic Trophy Series match-up.
The Lions (17-7, 11-6 MIAA) were led in scoring for the second consecutive game by Mosley, who continues her February tear as she registered 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field and went 9-of-10 from the free throw line. She also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to notch her sixth double-double of the year. Nicole Hartzog added 12 points and eight rebounds while the pair of Sharese Jones and Shawnee Phillips chipped in 11 points each.
The Gorillas (21-6, 14-3) were led in scoring by Lizzy Jeronimus with 26 points as the junior from Lenexa, Kan. finished 5-of-13 from the field and 16-of-19 from the free throw line while dishing out six assists. Two other PSU players finished in double figures as Cathy Brugman scored 12 points and Antqunita Reed added 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Falling behind 8-2 after only two minutes of play, Southern fought its way with a 11-5 run to knot the game at 13 apiece with 12:44 to play in the first half as it got scores from Clay, Alexis Fitzpatrick, Mosley and Jones. After the Gorillas responded with a 8-0 run to go up 21-13, they continued to hold a seven-point edge with 6:19 to play, until the Lions ended the half on a 13-4 run getting six points from Mosley, five from Phillips and two from Clay to take a 38-36 lead into the halftime break. Both teams shot very evenly in the first half as the Lions shot 42.3% (11-26) from the field and the Gorillas hit 43.3% (13-30).
Holding an 11-3 record when they lead at halftime, the Lions started the second half strong on an 11-4 run taking their largest lead of the game at 49-40 with 16:20 to play. After a Jeronimus jumper stopped the run, PSU responded with a 11-3 run of their own to re-take the lead at 53-52 with 12:20 remaining in the second half. Unable to wrestle the lead away from the Gorillas the rest of the afternoon, the Lions continued to claw and battle staying within earshot of PSU until the visitors from Kansas went on a 8-0 run over a 2:08 span to open up a 65-55 lead with 5:35 to play.
The Lions did not go away quietly as Phillips hit a layup and a free throw and Clay hit a layup of her own to close the gap to 65-60, but a layup by Jeronimus made the game 70-62 with 1:31 to play. After Phillips hit a three-pointer and Mosley hit three free throws over the next 75 seconds to close the game to within two at 70-68 with 16 ticks remaining, the Gorillas hit one final free throw and Jones missed a last second layup as the Southern dropped a hard-fought game.
Southern finished 21-for-55 (.382) from the field while Pitt State was 23-for-53 (.434). Both teams shot over 50% from three-point range and 75% from the free-throw line. The Lions outrebounded the Gorillas 44-28 as they grabbed 17 offensive boards leading to 11 second chance points.
The Lions return to action on Thursday as they travel to St. Charles to take on the Lindenwood Lady Lions (14-11, 9-9) at 5:30 p.m. at Hyland Arena.