Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern Lions celebrated Senior Day in a big way by routing the Fort Hays State Lady Tigers 91-53 Saturday afternoon (Feb. 20) at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Playing in their final home game, seniors Jolea Apon and Randi Henderson figured heavily into the positive outcome for the Lions. Apon scored a game-high 15 points and hit all five of her free-throw attempts. Henderson made all three of her attempts from beyond the arc for nine points and also dished out seven assists, one shy of tying her career-high.
The Lions started strong out of the gate as Henderson nailed a three and Jasmine Lovejoy scored five straight for a quick 8-2 lead.
A layup by Apon made it 10-2 and a jumper from Erin Rice and a layup from Lovejoy extended the lead to double-figures at the 14:38 mark of the first half.
The Lady Tigers got within 19-14 on a jumper from Naomi Bancroft midway through the first half that capped a 10-5 spurt.
The lead was 25-18 for the Lions when Afton Baldwin went to work. She quickly hit a pair of threes that gave the Lions a 31-20 lead with 5:57 remaining in the half.
With the Lions leading 35-24, Baldwin hit two more from downtown that gave her four for the half that ballooned the lead to 41-26.
The Lions went on to a 43-29 lead at the break.
Henderson started the second half much like the first with a three that beat the shot clock and from there the Lions (14-11, 8-10 MIAA) took total command.
After Erica Biel hit a layup for the Lady Tigers (15-10, 8-10 MIAA), LaTice Jones led an 8-0 spurt with three buckets that stretched the lead to 24 at 55-31.
Biel converted a three-point play that stopped the run, but the Lions reeled off the next 15 points to break the game wide-open and lead by 36. The scoring run was well balanced as five different Lions scored over this span and Lindsey Rujawitz capped the outburst with a layup and a jumper.
The Lions' defense hounded the Lady Tigers into missing all seven of their field-goal attempts during this nearly four-minute stretch. Meanwhile, the Lions were a perfect 6-of-6 from the field during this span, including hitting both of their three-point attempts.
The Lions kept the Lady Tigers at arms length from that point, leading by at least 28 the rest of the way.
A three by Kelby Fritz gave the Lions their largest lead of the game at 40 points with 1:07 remaining.
In addition to her game-high point total, Apon also grabbed five rebounds and recorded three steals. Henderson also had two steals. Lovejoy scored 14 to go along with a team-high eight rebounds.
Biel scored 11 and pulled down eight boards to lead the Lady Tigers. Kara Champlin added 10.
The Lions' intense defensive effort limited the Lady Tigers to 35.4 percent (17-of-48) for the game and only a 32.0 percent clip (8-of-25) in the second half.
Southern also controlled the boards with a 35-26 overall advantage, including a 26-19 edge on the defensive glass.
The Lions will now hit the road for their final two contests of the 2009-10 regular season, beginning with a matchup Thursday evening (Feb. 25) at Nebraska-Omaha at 5:30 p.m. The Lions defeated UNO earlier this season (Jan. 16) in Joplin.