Joplin, Mo. - Playing their first MIAA opponent for the second time this season, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team travels to Tahlequah, Okla. on Wednesday evening to take on the Northeastern State Riverhawks at 5:30 p.m at Jack Dobbins Field House.
The Lions last time out (11-10, 5-8 MIAA): Hanging right with #10 Central Missouri all evening long, the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team battled hard before falling to the Jennies 74-63 Saturday night at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
With the Jennies jumping out to an 11-3 lead in the first five minutes, the Lions would respond with a 14-7 run to close the gap to within one (18-17) halfway through the first half. The Jennies would respond with two quick three-pointers to open the gap back up to seven, a margin they would take into the locker room at halftime going up 36-29 at the break. The Lions would shoot 13-28 (.464) from the field in the first half getting contributions from seven Lions, including ten from Rice.
The Lions would begin the second half on an offensive tear going on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes out of the break to tie the game up at 36 apiece. Trading baskets with the Jennies, the Lions would take their first lead of the night when tenBerge would nail a three-pointer to give the Lions a 41-38 lead. Trading punches, the Jennies would regain the lead on a Flax jumper (46-45) with 13:22 remaining.
The Lions would keep the game close staying within four over the next four minutes thanks to free throws from Mosley and Rice. A pair from the charity stripe from Mosley would close the gap to two (54-52), before Lewis would hit a pair of three-pointers to give the Jennies a six point lead (60-54). A pair of free throws from Jolee Sharp would draw the Lions back within four (60-56), but that would be as close as the Lions would get as Central Missouri closed the game on a 14-7 run to go home with the 11 point win.
The RiverHawks last time out (16-6, 11-3 MIAA): Tosha Tyler recorded a rare four-point play with 24.9 seconds left to lift the Northeastern State women's basketball team to a 46-44 upset win over No. 19 Truman State Saturday afternoon inside Jack Dobbins Field House.
The RiverHawks trailed for the majority of the contest but were able to fight back and pick up their eighth win in their last nine outings. The Bulldogs (16-5, 9-4 MIAA) became the fifth ranked foe to fall at the hands of Northeastern State this year. The RiverHawks have also knocked off No. 9 Washburn, No. 10 Fort Hays State, No. 18 Pittsburg State, and No. 21 Emporia State. In all five wins, NSU held its opponent to its season low in points.
With the RiverHawks trailing 44-41 with 33 seconds left, on the next possession, sophomore guard Fontana Tate found the ball at the top of the key and passed to Tyler over on the wing. She hesitated for a split second to get separation, and she used the extra room to hoist up a three.
She was slapped on the arm by TSU's Megan Sharpe, and the ball sailed straight through the hoop just as the official was blowing his whistle to signal the foul. Tyler calmly stepped up to the free-throw line to add the go-ahead point, and two empty possessions by the Bulldogs were all the home team needed to record the upset win.
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 186-142 (.567) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 269-198 (.576) 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.
Randy Gipson is currently in his 14th season at the helm of the Northeastern State women's basketball program. With a record of 275-127 record as the head coach of the RiverHawks, he has never recorded a losing season in his 13 prior campaigns at NSU, and he has led his program to seven appearances in the NCAA Championship. Gipson came to Northeastern State in 1999-00, and he captured six Lone Star Conference North Division Championships in a 12-year span. He also led NSU to the 2003 LSC Tournament Championship, while finishing runner up in the conference tournament on three occasions (2004, '05, '10).
The Series between the two schools: Northeastern State leads the overall series with Southern 14-9 with their last matchup coming less than three weeks ago in Joplin on January 26 with the RiverHawks topping the Lions 69-45. Sophomore guard Nicole Hartzog led the Lions with a career-high 14 points on the afternoon as she was the only Lion in double figures. The RiverHawks shot a season-best for a Lion opponent from the field shooting 27-48 (.563), including 12-25 from three-point range. The Lions hold a 7-5 advantage at home, but are only 1-9 in Talequah, Okla. with their lone win coming on December 17, 2007, while winning the only neutral court matchup in 1981.