Women's basketball to host Emporia State Saturday

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Joplin, Mo. - Coming off a tough loss at Northeastern State on Wednesday evening, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team returns to action on Saturday evening when they host the Emporia State Lady Hornets at 5:30 p.m. at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The Lions last time out (11-11, 5-9 MIAA): Overcoming a slow start offensively, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team used a late first half run to propel themselves back into the game but were unable to overcome poor second half shooting falling at Northeastern State 56-48 Wednesday evening.

The Riverhawks would take open the game with a thirteen point lead (23-10) before the Lions would begin to find their shot and tighten their defense ripping off a 21-4 run over the next six and half minutes to take a four point lead (31-27) with 1:50 left in the half. The Lions would hit five three pointers during their run, including three from Johnna tenBerge, who finished with 14 points. The RiverHawks would score the final four points of the half to go into the locker room deadlocked at 31 apiece.

The start of the second half would find both teams struggling to find their shot as neither team was able to get on the board in the first 7:11 of the half. Rice would end the scoreboard drought hitting a free throw to give the Lions their final lead of the game at 32-31.

The Lions would keep the RiverHawks within five over the next eight minutes of play before the Lions would cut the lead to two (40-38) before the RiverHawks would hit a pair of three-pointers to open up a six point lead (46-40). Building their lead to a ten-point cushion with 1:52 to play, tenBerge would hit a three-pointer to pull the Lions within seven (52-45), but the RiverHawks would hit four free throws down the stretch to pull out the eight point win.

The Lady Hornets last time out (15-6, 10-3 MIAA): Emporia State put five players in double figures as the Lady Hornets defeated Central Oklahoma 73-60 in Edmond, Okla. on Wednesday night.  It was the eighth straight win for the Lady Hornets and seventh straight by double figures.

The Bronchos jumped out to a 5-0 lead but the Lady Hornets answered with an 8-0 run to take their first lead.  UCO retook the lead at 9-8 before Emporia State went on a 9-2 run to take the lead for good.

The Lady Hornets took a 34-26 lead into the locker rooms and would lead by as many at 13 in the second half.  The Bronchos did cut the lead to four at 60-56 with 6:10 left but the Lady Hornets answered with a 5-0 run by Jocelyn Cummings and Sarah Wood to push the lead back to nine with 2:59 left.  Haley Parker hit six of six free throws in the final 1:32 to ice the win for Emporia State.

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 186-143 (.565) record in 12 years with the Lions. She holds a 269-199 (.575) 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.

Jory Collins is in his third season as the coach of the Lady Hornets compiling a 58-24 record. In 2011-12, Collins lead the Hornets to a 23-9 record while qualifying for the NCAA Tournament before falling to fellow MIAA member Pittsburg State in the regional championship game. In 2010-11 he led ESU to a 20-9 record and became the second MIAA coach to win 20 games and make the MIAA Tournament Championship Game.

The Series between the two schools: ESU leads the overall series with MSSU 48-23 with the Lady Hornets topping the Lions 68-52 in their previous meeting this season on Janury 23 in Emporia, Kan. The series between the two schools is split 16-16 in Joplin with the Lions last victory over Emporia in Joplin coming in a 82-74 triumph in overtime on February 12, 2011.