ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Missouri Southern Lions (5-3, 1-2 MIAA) stole a 66-62 victory from Missouri Western (2-5, 0-3 MIAA) Wednesday night in St. Joseph as the Lions forced 25 Griffon turnovers.
The Lions got off to a quick start drilling two shots from long distance, one each for junior forward Erin Rice and junior guard Kelby Fritz, as Southern jumped out to a 6-0 lead just 1:30 into the game. Missouri Western would then go on an 8-0 run over the next 2:24, capped off by a three pointer and layup by senior Jessica Koch, to take the lead at 8-6. A 9-0 run by the Griffons would give Missouri Western the lead for a second time at 22-17 with 4:32 to play in the first half with four points coming at the charity stripe. After the Lions tied the game at 25-25 on a pair of free throws by Rice, Missouri Western would go on a 6-2 run to take a 31-27 into the locker room.
Rice led all scorers in the first half with 11, while freshman guard Haley Weathers added six and sophomore forwardJessica Bell added five for Southern.
Missouri Western opened up the second half scoring from the free throw line as Koch widened the Griffons lead to 33-27, before the Lions would 4-0 run with jumpers from junior guard Tatianna Washington and sophomore guard Shatara Stone to pull within two at 33-31 with 18:52 left in the second half. Koch would then go on a 5-0 run of her own to open the lead up to seven, 38-31, with 16:40 to go in the game. Western pushed their lead up to nine twice as the Lions would chip away and get it down to one with 5:49 to play on a jumper from Rice, and would take the lead on a layup by Weathers at the 5:38 mark. Rice would then go on a 4-0 run herself to give Southern a three point lead after Western retook the lead at 53-52. Washington went on another 4-0 run to open up to a five point lead, 60-55, with 3:12 left to play and withstood a late rally by Western for the 66-62 victory.
Rice led the way for the Lions with 21 points and six rebounds while Washington and Weathers added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Bell also collected six boards for Southern in the game.
The Lions shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field while holding Missouri Western to just 34.6 percent (18-of-52). The Griffons out rebounded Southern 40-31 and outshot the Lions from the charity stripe 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) to 7-of-15 (46.7 percent).
Missouri Southern will be back in action Saturday as they host the Lincoln University Blue Tigers with a 1pm tip in The Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.