Lovejoy, Rice propel Lions past Avila, 71-49

Joplin, Mo. - Jasmine Lovejoy and Erin Rice combined for 33 points to lead the Missouri Southern Lions to a 71-49 win over the Avila Eagles in their 2009-10 home opener at the MSSU Pizza Hut/Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic Saturday afternoon (Nov. 27) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

Jaime Kenney hit a three and Alyson Young added a free throw to give the Eagles an early 10-9 lead at the 15:04 mark of the first half. 

But the combination of Lovejoy and Rice made sure the lead was short-lived by teaming up to score 15 points to spark a 23-4 spurt that put the Lions ahead 32-14 with 5:31 left in the first half.

The Lions (3-1) led 13-12 when Jolea Apon hit a pair of threes that helped extend the lead to 21-14. 

Rice then gave the Lions a double-digit lead with a layup and then a three-point play that made it 26-14. 

Lovejoy took over from there by scoring the final six points of the run that featured a pair of layups and two free throws.

The Lions went into the half with a 40-23 advantage.

Avila (5-4) scored the first four points of the second half to pull within 40-27, but that's as close as they would get as Randi Henderson nailed to three to begin a 7-0 run for the Lions that made it 47-27 six minutes into the second half.

A 16-4 run over a seven-minute span in the second half gave the Lions their largest lead of the game at 65-38 with 4:45 remaining.

Lovejoy led the Lions with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field to go along with a team-high seven boards.  Rice added 14 points and four rebounds.  Henderson recorded a game-high eight assists for the Lions.

Kenney had a team-high 13 for the Eagles and Brittany Townsend scored 12.

One huge key to the victory for the Lions was their work on the glass.  The Lions held a 44-23 overall edge in rebounds, with a huge 20-2 edge on the offensive glass.