Southern women's basketballl set to host Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic

Complete Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic Game Notes

Joplin, Mo. - Fresh off their highest scoring output in nearly eight years, the Missouri Southern women's basketball team returns to action this weekend hosting the Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic Friday and Saturday at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. The Lions play the Avila Eagles on Friday at 7 p.m. and finish up tournament play on Saturday at 3 p.m. taking on the Evangel Crusaders.

Thanksgiving Classic Information

Date: Friday/ Saturday, Nov. 22-23, 2013
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m., CT / 3:00 p.m., CT
Location: Joplin, Mo.
Site: Leggett & Platt Athletic Center (3,240)
Series Record: MSSU leads Avila 12-0 (Home: 8-0, Away: 4-0); MSSU leads Evangel 28-5 (Home: 17-1, Away: 9-3, Neutral: 2-1).
Coaches: Ronda Hubbard (1-1 at MSSU, 1-1 overall). Larry Williams (127-96 at Avila, 127-96 overall). Leon Neal (389-229 at Evangel, 389-229 overall).

Media Coverage

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Last time out for the Lions (1-1): Thanks to career-best performances from Sharese Jones and Dominique Mosley, the Missouri Southern Lions women's basketball team defeated Southwestern Oklahoma State 99-83 this afternoon in their home opener at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center last Saturday (Nov.16). Southern (1-1) was led in scoring by Jones, as the sophomore guard from St. Charles registered a career-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field while going 7-of-10 from the free-throw line. Mosley added a career-high 27 points on 12-19 shooting from the field. Combining to grab 28 of the Lions' 48 rebounds, both Jones and Mosley ended with career-highs in boards as well as Jones grabbed 15 boards and Mosley chipped in 13.

With the game deadlocked at 20 after the first ten minutes of play, the Lions went on a quick 7-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Shawnee Phillips, but the Lady Bulldogs answered right back with a 7-0 run of their own to tie the game at 27 with five minutes to play in the first half. A three-pointer from Nicole Hartzog and a layup from Jones pushed Southern's lead to five and they extended that cushion to seven as they went to the locker room at halftime up 42-35. Shooting 50% (16-32) from the field in the first half, Southern continued their hot shooting in the second half as they opened the second stanza on a 11-5 run to take a 13-point (53-40) lead after a Mosley layup. Expanding their lead to as large as 25 (80-55) after a Jones layup and free throw with seven minutes to play, the Lions held off a late rally from the Lady Bulldogs that saw Southern's lead cut to as low as 14 (93-79) to secure the win.

Last time out for Avila (1-4): The Eagles come into this weekend's action coming off a narrow 62-58 exhibition loss at Rockhurst (Mo.) last Saturday (Nov. 16). The Eagles were led in scoring by junior forward Rebekah Capeder with 13 points while sophomore guard Jessica Smith added 12 points. Junior guard Michaela Brinkley chipped in 10 points as Capeder and Brinkley each finished with double-doubles as each grabbed 10 rebounds.

Avila defeated Sterling College 85-65 at the Tara Patterson Classic hosted by Southwestern College on Nov. 9 after dropping their first four games, including a narrow 51-50 loss at Park University on Nov. 5.

Last time out for Evangel (2-3): The Crusaders come into this weekend's tournament coming off a 72-64 setback at John Brown (Ark.) on Tuesday. The Crusaders were led in scoring by junior guard Emily Akins who dropped 35 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, and 11-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line. The Springfield, Mo. native also grabbed seven rebounds and is averaging 23.4 points per game through the first five games. Senior guard Bailey Irvine added 11 points while freshman center Allison Swanson chipped in eight points.

Evangel opened its season with a 79-66 triumph at home over Missouri Baptist on Nov. 4. After falling on the road at William Woods and College of the Ozarks, the Crusaders rebounded with a 85-79 win at home over Oklahoma Wesleyan on Nov. 15.

The Coaches: Ronda Hubbard (1-1) is in her 13th year on the staff at Missouri Southern and was promoted to the position of Interim Head Coach on July 2, 2013 after the retirement of Maryann Mitts. During her 12 years with the Lions, she has helped the team to a 189-145 record, including winning marks and a trip to the MIAA post season tournament in all by one of those 12 seasons. In 2000-01, Hubbard helped the University of Texas-Pan American post its most wins in a season since becoming an NCAA Division I institution in 1985, and the second most victories in school history. Prior to her stint at Texas-Pan American, she served on current Lions head coach Maryann Mitts' staff as an assistant at Rockhurst University from 1996-2000. There, she helped the Lady Hawks post a 68-45 record and advance to the 1997-98 Sweet 16.

Larry Williams (127-96) is in his 8th season at the helm of the Avila women's basketball team. The 2012-13 squad had two players receive All-HAAC honors while junior Arianne Henry was selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Emil S. Liston award for all female athletes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Leon Neal (389-229) is in his 20th year as the head coach of Evangel's women's basketball team in 2013-14 and his 26th year on the women's basketball staff at EU. The 56-year old has been named Heart of America conference Coach of the Year six times in his career and has guided the Evangel women's program to seven conference championships, nine NAIA national tournament appearances and two NAIA Final Fours.

The Series between Avila: The Lions lead the overall series with the Eagles is 12-0 with Southern going 8-0 at both home and 4-0 on the road. Their most recent matchup came at last year's Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn Thanksgiving Classic as Southern won 60-38 as Shonte Clay dropped 12 points and seven rebounds in the win.

The Series between Evangel: The Lions lead the overall series with the Crusaders 28-5 with Southern going 17-1 at home. Their most recent matchup also came at last year's Pizza Hut/ Fairfield Inn as MSSU triumped 66-58 behind 13 points and six rebounds from Clay.