Joplin, Mo. - The Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team beat the Evangel University Crusaders 66-58 this afternoon at home in the final game of the Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic.
The Lions (5-1) were led in scoring on the day by junior center Shonte Clay who finished with 13 points and a game-high six rebounds. Senior forward Erin Rice finished with 12 points, while freshman guard Sharese Jones also had a nice afternoon as she finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Evangel was led by a game-high 18 points apiece from forward Sierra McSpadden and guard Emily Akins. Shooting 20 of 39 (.513) from the field, Evangel's shooting percentage was the highest for a Missouri Southern opponent this season.
With the game going back and forth throughout the first half, the Lions led 14-12 before a Rice three-pointer and layup pushed the lead to seven with eight minutes remaining in the half. Evangel hung around though all afternoon getting within 35-30 before a layup from freshman forward Kristen Hanna gave the Lions a 37-30 lead going into the locker room.
Getting the first bucket of the second half on a layup by Clay, Southern and Avila traded baskets throughout the the second half as Avila cut the Lions lead to two on five different occasions throughout the half with the last time being 57-55 with 4:37 remaining in regulation. A three-pointer from the left corner by junior guard Jolee Sharp pushed the Lions lead to 60-55. With the Eagles responding with a jumper from Tiaunshe Brown, Southern responded with a jumper from Rice with 2:00 remaining. A layup by Clay pushed the Lions lead back to seven at 64-57 with 1:17 remaining in the game. With the Eagles hitting one of two free throws, a pair of free throws from junior guard Samantha Soyez sealed the win for the Lions 66-58.
Southern shot 43.4 percent (23-53) from the field on the day finishing with 16 assists on their 23 field goals. Becoming a theme throughout the year, for the sixth consecutive game, the Lions outscored their opponents bench besting the Eagles 35-23 off the bench. Evangel finished the afternoon shooting 51.3 percent (20-39) from the field and 46.7 percent (7-15) from behind the line.
The Lions return to action next Saturday at home when they host the Drury University Panthers at 1 p.m.
2012 Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team
Lizzy Jeronimus- Forward, Soph., Pittsburg State
Lauren Brown- Center, Sr., Pittsburg State
Sierra McSpadden- Forward, Sr., Evangel University
Dominique Mosley- Forward, Jr., Missouri Southern State
Shonte Clay- Center, Jr., Missouri Southern State
Outstanding Player: Lizzy Jeronimus- ^
^- Unanimous Selection