KEARNEY, Neb. – The Missouri Southern women’s basketball program completed the farthest road trip of the regular season by knocking off its second nationally ranked opponent of the week 57-54 this evening inside the Health and Sports Center.
This is the first time the Lions have come away with back-to-back ranked wins since the 2003-04 season after taking out then No. 4 Emporia State and No. 9 Washburn (February 7 and 11). Southern is the first opponent to take out both Fort Hays State and Nebraska-Kearney this season and became both team’s second home loss of the season as well.
The Lions (12-5, 9-3 MIAA) were led by sophomore center Madi Stokes with 15 points going 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from free throws while having a game-high eight rebounds and two blocks moving her into sole possession of second place in school history with 111 blocks just eight away from tying Zoe Campbell’s (17-21) school record. Junior guard/forward Amaya Johns had 14 points and three rebounds to lead all bench scorers.
True freshman guard Lacy Stokes finished with 12 points going 8-of-11 from free throws while grabbing five rebounds and five steals for her fifth game this season with 5 or more steals. Redshirt freshman guard Kaitlin Hunnicutt added seven points going 2-of-3 from three and pulled down five rebounds, graduate guard Brooke Stauffer led the team with four assists while adding five points and five rebounds.
The #14 Lopers (15-3, 10-2 MIAA) were led by Elisa Backes with 14 points from the bench as she also came away with six rebounds and had two blocks. Trinity Law led the starters with 10 points while having five rebounds and coming away with two steals. Klaire Kirsch had nine points and seven rebounds while going 4-of-4 from free throws and Brooke Carlson had eight points and five rebounds as well.
Nebraska-Kearney went on a 9-0 run to open the game before a Stauffer jumper had the Lions on the board with 3:54 left in the first quarter. Stauffer’s jumper started a 7-2 run by the Lions over the next three minutes to cut into the Loper lead to four (11-7) with 1:04 remaining in the quarter.
Junior guard/forward Layne Skiles got the Lions onto the board on the first possession of the second quarter with a pair of free throws to start a 6-3 run by Southern to cut the lead down to four again (17-13). An 11-3 run by the Lions saw them go into the half up 24-20 as Johns accounted for six points of the run.
In the second quarter the Lopers offense went 2-of-12 from the field and 1-of-6 from three after shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 2-of-6 from three in the first quarter while having 10 turnovers in the half and shot 1-of-4 from free throws.
Madi Stokes and the Lions went on a 7-2 run to begin the third quarter stretching the lead to eight (31-23) with 7:33 remaining in the quarter. Nebraska-Kearney went on a 15-0 run over the next five minutes to reclaim the lead and making it a seven point deficit (38-31) before a pair of Lacy Stokes free throws with 2:37 left stopped the run.
The Lions got within one (38-37) of the Lopers lead following a pair of free throws by Lacy Stokes with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter. Nebraska-Kearney ended the quarter on a 4-0 run, taking a five point lead (42-37) into the fourth quarter.
A 7-2 run by the Lions capped off by a Johns layup with 7:14 tied it up at 44-44 before Haley Simental sank two free throws for a two point Loper lead with 6:15 left. Madi Stokes converted a turnaround jumper that was assisted by Stauffer with 4:23 to take the first Lion lead of the quarter 47-46.
Carlson and Madi Stokes traded made layups to change the lead between the teams before Backes made an old fashion three point play with 2:38 to take a 51-49 UNK lead. Johns got the Lions back ahead with her second three of the night 52-51 before Backes made a pair of free throws on the Lopers following possession to take a 53-52 lead.
Lacy Stokes took control of the game in the final 1:32 making a layup and one off an offensive rebound to put the Lions ahead 55-53. Backes was at the line with 1:11 remaining with a chance to tie it at 55 all making the first before missing the second with Kaitlin Hunnicutt grabbing the rebound. Lacy Stokes finished off the scoring with a layup with 28 seconds left sealing the Lions 57-54 win.
As a team Southern held the advantage in steals (6-3), offensive rebounds (10-9), points off turnovers (9-7), points in the paint (22-14), second chance points (22-5), forced 14 Lopers turnovers compared to six by the Lions and tied in assists with both teams having 10.
Up next for the Lions is Rogers State back in Joplin on Wednesday, tip-off from the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center is set for 5:30 pm.