JOPLIN – The 19th ranked Emporia State University Lady Hornets (10-1, 6-0 MIAA) avenged the overtime loss from last season defeating the Missouri Southern Lions (5-8, 1-6 MIAA) 74-55, Wednesday night inside The Leggett & Platt Athletic Center in Joplin.
The Lions experienced a drought of just over eight minutes as they fell behind 17-4 before junior forward Samantha Gray connected on her first three pointer of the season, Gray has been out most of the season with multiple injuries. The Lady Hornets would then extend their lead to 19 at the 7:09 mark, 28-9, before Southern would make a 10-2 run highlighted by six points from junior forward Erin Rice on a three pointer and an old-fashioned three point play to pull within 11 at 30-19 with 3:47 to play. Emporia State would then out score the Lions 7-6 to close out the first half.
Rice led the way for the Lions in the first stanza with 12 points while the Lady Hornets were led by Kelsey Balcom with 11 points. Southern shot just 27 percent from the field going 6-of-22 while Emporia State hit 58 percent (14-of-24).
The Lady Hornets would come out of the locker room on a 5-0 run and extend their lead to as many as 22 during the second half. Southern would slowly chip away at the lead getting it down to 15 five times during the first 10 minutes of play. Emporia State would make runs of 5-0, 4-0, 4-0, and 7-0 during the half to secure the win over the Lions.
Rice turned in a season-high performance with 28 points while senior Larrita Gipson led the team with five rebounds. Sophomore Shatara Stone, Rice, and seniorMichelle Hedgecock each pulled down three boards. Rice was 9-for-15 from the field including 3-of-4 from downtown, as Southern shot only 35 percent (15-of-43) as a team from the field.
The Lions will be back in action Saturday as they travel to Topeka, Kansas to take on the 20th ranked Lady Blues of Washburn University. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 pm and all the live action can be followed on 1230AM or at www.mssulions.com.