Lions pull away in second half for 60-43 win over Southwestern

Joplin, Mo. -  Jolea Apon scored a game-high 19 points as the Missouri Southern Lions broke open a tight game in the second half and went on to a 60-43 win over the Southwestern (Kan.) Lady Builders Monday night (Dec. 21) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions held a 38-31 lead at the 11:10 mark of the second half when back-to-back threes by Apon fueled an 8-0 surge to take their largest lead at that point at 46-31 with 8:14 left.

The Lady Builders hung around and cut the lead back to nine as a trey by Jasmine Manuel capped a 7-1 run that made it 47-38 with 6:18 left.

But that's where the Lions put it away with a 7-0 run of their own on a pair of free throws each by Jasmine Lovejoy and Randi Henderson and a three by Apon that gave the Lions a commanding 54-38 with just 5:02 remaining.

The Lions got off to a fast start by going on a 10-0 spurt after the Lady Builders scored the first bucket of the game to lead by eight four minutes into the contest.

After the Lady Builders scored consecutive baskets to come within four, the Lions (7-2) took a double-digit lead by outscoring the Lady Builders 9-2 over the next six minutes to lead 19-8. 

A jumper by Apon put the Lions up 21-13 but the Lady Builders (8-4) closed out the half on a 7-3 run to close within 24-20 at the break.

Field goals were tough to come by in the first half for both squads, as the Lions shot only 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from the floor but held Southwestern to a 30.4 percent (7-of-23) shooting clip in the opening 20 minutes.

In addition to her team-high 19 points, Apon also led the Lions with five assists, three blocks and tied for the team-lead with seven rebounds.  Michelle Hedgecock also reached double-figure scoring with 11 points and produced seven rebounds. 

Manuel was the lone Lady Builder in double-figures with 11 points.

The Lions' defensive effort was even stingier in the second half in limiting the Lady Builders to only 20.7 percent (6-of-29) from the floor.  The Lions also forced 25 turnovers on the night.

The Lions will now take a week off to observe the Christmas holiday and will next host Southwest Baptist next Monday night (Dec. 28) at 7 p.m. The Lions swept the season series against SBU last season.