Joplin, Mo. - Trying to snap a four game slide, the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team looks to get back on the winning track on Thursday evening when they travel to Topeka, Kan. to face the #9 Washburn Lady Blues at 5:30 p.m. at Lee Arena.
The Lions last time out (10-7, 4-5 MIAA): Despite a strong start to the game, the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team was unable to overcome a late first half run and red-hot shooting from behind the three-point line by Northeastern State falling to the RiverHawks 69-45 at home Saturday afternoon at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Led by a career-high 14 points from Nicole Hartzog and a season-low nine turnovers, the Lions (10-7, 4-5 MIAA) got out to a 5-4 lead through the first five minutes of play thanks to five early points from Erin Rice. With three more Lions scoring baskets over the next six minutes, the Lions and RiverHawks were tied at 11 apiece with 8:31 remaining. The RiverHawks (13-5, 8-2) would respond with a 21-5 run over the final eight minutes of the half, including three three-pointers, to take a 32-16 lead into the halftime break.
The RiverHawks hot shooting from behind the arc would continue in the second half as they hit three three-pointers in the first six minutes of play to extend their lead to 23 (47-24). The Lions would try to fight back going on a 12-6 run over then next six minutes to cut the lead to 17 (53-36) thanks to baskets from Dominique Mosley, Rice, and Tee Singleton and three-pointers from Hartzog and Johnna tenBerge, but that would be as close as the Lions would get the rest of the game.
The Lady Blues last time out (13-3, 7-1 MIAA): The Lady Blues built an 18-point lead at halftime and held it in a 64-46 win Saturday (Jan. 26) at Hyland Arena in head coach Ron McHenry's 400th career game and Washburn's first game Lindendwood since 1987. Washburn wrapped up a stetch of six of seven games on the road with a 6-1 record and will return home for a four-game stand in Schendel Court in Lee Arena.
The Lady Blues held Lindenwood to 19 percent shooting in the first half and a 26 percent effort throughout the game. Washburn shot 39 percent as a team. The two teams combined to go just 3 of 18 from 3-point range with seven misses and no makes in the second half.
Tiara George led a balanced offense with 11 points off the bench. She was 4 of 8 from the field and had four rebounds and three blocked shots. Laura Kinderknecht and Sierra Moeller each had 10 points as they combined to go 9 of 17 from the field. Moeller also had three blocks and Washburn blocked eight Lindenwood attempts. Lavonda McCall scored seven with a team-high six rebounds, matching Laura McMullin's effort off the bench.
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 185-139 (.571) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 268-195 (.579) 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.
Ron McHenry, fresh off his seventh MIAA regular season and tournament championships, is in his 13th season as the head coach of the Lady Blues. McHenry earned his 300th career win last year and sits at 332-68 (.830), spending all 13 of his years at Washburn. He's 152-38 (.800) in MIAA games and 167-18 (.903) coaching in Lee Arena. McHenry, a national champion in 2004-05, is the winningest coach at the NCAA Division II level since taking over the Washburn program prior to the 2000-01 season. The Lady Blues went 29-5 overall last year and 18-2 in the MIAA to win the regular season outright.
The Series between the two schools: Washburn leads the overall series with Southern 44-25 with the Lady Blues taking both matchups a season ago. Washburn won 76-53 in Topeka, while taking the meeting in Joplin 75-69. Senior forward Erin Rice averaged 17.5 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game in those two contests a year ago. The Lions are 9-26 at Washburn, while having better success against the Lady Blues at home going 16-18. The Lions last won in Topeka on January 9, 2010.