January 9, 2013

Women's basketball travels to MIAA newcomer Lindenwood to face Lady Lions

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Joplin, Mo. - Coming off a thrilling two-point win over Missouri Western at home on Saturday night, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team returns to action tomorrow (Thursday) night when they travel to St. Charles, Mo. to face new conference member the Lindenwood Lady Lions at 5:30 p.m. in Hyland Arena. The Lions will stay on the road to face the Lincoln University Blue Tigers (7-5, 2-2 MIAA) in Jefferson City, Mo. on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Jason Gym.

The Coaches: Maryann Mitts is the winningest coach in Missouri Southern history. Under Mitts' guidance, the Lions have averaged 17 wins during her 11 years at the helm and have finished in the upper echelon of the highly competitive Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association seven of those 11 years.  In 16 years as a collegiate head coach, Mitts has amassed an impressive 13 winning seasons.  Notable, the Lions have also narrowly missed the NCAA post-season tournament in six of those 11 years. Overall, Mitts has compiled a 183-135 (.575) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 266-191 (.582) mark in 17 years as a collegiate head coach. Mitts currently ranks amongst the Top 50 of all Division II active coaches in all-time victories.

Now in his third season as the head coach of the Lindenwood Lady Lions basketball program, Tony Francis has helped turn the Lindewood women's basketball program around. In 2011-12, Francis and the Lady Lions compiled a record of 17-10 in their first season outside the NAIA. After the season, three Lady Lions received postseason honors. Marissa Lehnig and Caroline Bourlioux were named to the second team All-ICAA, and Sarah Schnieders was named to the third team All-ICAA. In 2010, Francis led one of the top turnarounds in the country when he took the Lindenwood program back to the upper echelon of the HAAC. The Lady Lions went from nine wins in 2009 to 21 in 2010. The program also finished in second place in the HAAC Conference. Lindenwood put together two six game winning streaks during the season. Coach Francis was also named the Conference Coach of the Year.

The Lions last time out (8-3, 2-1 MIAA): Thanks to a last-second jumper from Missouri Western failing to fall in and a career-high 17 points from freshman guard Sharese Jones, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team held off the Missouri Western Griffons for a thrilling 78-76 win Saturday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. In addition to Jones' career night, three other Lions (8-3, 2-1) finished the night in double figures as Samantha Soyez finished with a career-high 11 points, while Erin Rice and Jolee Sharp each finished with 10 points. Dominique Mosley also had a strong game finishing with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.

With Southern up a point at 42-41 at halftime and a fast-paced first half, the second half saw the quick pace of the first half pick right back up as the Lions scored the six of the first eight points of the second half to take a 48-43 lead. The Griffons would respond with seven of the next nine points to tie the game at 50 apiece with 15:44 remaining. Southern responded with a 7-0 run, including a pair of layups from Jones, to go up 57-50, but the Western would respond with a 8-0 run of its own to take its first lead of the second half at 58-57. The teams would trade the lead five times over the next 6:43 as a layup from Jones tied up the game at 70 with 4:13 remaining.

A layup from Tee Singleton helped the Lions regain the lead, but Western responded with a three-pointer before a go-ahead three point play from Jones gave the Lions the lead for good at 75-73. The Griffons would hit one of two free throws before Nicole Hartzog sunk a pair of free throws to take a three-point lead. Western's Alicia Bell would respond hitting a pair of free throws to cut the lead back to one before a free throw from Soyez sealed the Lions' second conference win of the year.

The Lady Lions last time out (3-8, 0-3 MIAA): The Lindenwood women's basketball team fell on Saturday afternoon to Truman by a score of 86-65. Lindenwood's Caroline Bourlioux recorded her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. After getting down six points in the first six minutes of the contest, Lindenwood used a lay-up and free throw by Bourlioux and a three-pointer by sophomore Julie Hlinak to propel them back to a tie ball game. The two squads see-sawed back and forth creating three more ties before a 9-4 run gave the Lady Lions a five-point lead with 4:58 left in the half. Back-to-back three pointers by Truman's Jessica Redd and Becka McHenry gave Truman the lead and momentum going into the half with a 37-33 lead.

Going into halftime, Lindenwood only committed six turnovers while forcing five. Marissa Lehnig led the team going into the half with 11 points. The momentum from the end of the first half proved to carry its way into the second as the Bulldogs produced a 17-7 run in the first five minutes of the second. The Bulldog lead continued to grow to as many as 25 with three minutes remaining in the game. Lindenwood committed a season-low 13 turnovers in the contest while forcing 12 by the Bulldogs. Hlinak turned in a team-high 15 points while Emily Alfrey stole the ball three times. The Lady Lions shot 44.6 percent from the floor. Lindenwood could not contain the Bulldogs from beyond the arc as Truman shot 63.2 percent from three-point range.

The Series between the two schools: Southern leads the overall series with Lindenwood 3-0. The two Missouri school's most recent meeting was November 26, 2002 in Joplin, Mo. with the Lions coming out victorious 77-38.  Assistant coach Jamie Green, then a senior guard for the Lions, played in that contest recording three rebounds and an assist. The Lions are 2-0 in Joplin with their other win coming in St. Charles.