Edmond, Okla. -- Clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch helped the Lions to a 6-2 run over the final two minutes and secure a 63-59 win at Central Oklahoma today, clinching a first-round home game in the MIAA Tournament on Tuesday.
Southern (14-12, 8-10 MIAA) will play host to Northwest Missouri in a first round MIAA Tournament game at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5 in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Central Oklahoma (9-17, 2-16 MIAA) led by five with 4:36 to go in the game after a layup from Hayley Bryan made the score 57-52.
The Lions, however, picked up a pair of free-throws from Tee Singleton to cut the lead to three and a jumper from Erin Rice made the score 57-56, UCO, with 2:47 to play. Free-throws from Shonte Clay gave the Lions a 58-57 lead with just under a minute to play and a layup from Rice put the Lions' lead at three (60-57). Southern would go 3-4 from the free-throw line in the final 35 seconds to seal the win.
The Lions took a 38-36 lead into the locker room, but UCO took as much as a seven-point lead in the second half and led for the first 15 minutes before the Southern run to end the game.
Rice led the Lions with 18 points and five rebounds, going 8-17 from the field and 1-4 from long range. Nicole Hartzog scored ten and added a team-high nine rebounds, while Clay scored nine points and added eight rebounds.
The Lions shot 39 percent from the field and made 79 percent of their free-throws. The Lions had a 22-12 advantage in bench points and scored 15 points off of 12 UCO turnovers.
Southern will play host to Northwest Missouri at 7 pm on Tuesday night from the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. The winner of that game will go on to Kansas City to face off with the No. 1 seed at noon on Friday, March 8 from Municipal Auditorium.