Calling all fans: MSSU women return home with impressive credentials

Jan. 9—Thursday marks a well-deserved homecoming for the Missouri Southern women's basketball team.

You should be there to welcome them.

The Lions (9-4, 5-2) have played just two home games so far this season, and on Thursday they return to Leggett & Platt for their first home game since Dec. 9.

The MSSU women have become road warriors to be sure, posting impressive wins over quality teams.

Their last two home games — an 86-65 win over Central Oklahoma and a 97-65 win over Newman — snapped a two-game losing skid for the Lions and sparked what is now a six-game winning streak, which includes victories over three ranked teams: No. 3 Central Missouri, No. 18 Drury and No. 13 Pittsburg State.

And while they are presently flying under the radar as far as national polling goes, the Lions seem to be relishing their new role as giant killers.

On Thursday, the women have a chance to knock off their fourth ranked opponent and extend their win streak to seven when the No. 15 Fort Hays State Tigers (12-2, 6-2) come calling. This time, the Lions won't have to do it on the road.

This one is in their house.

And you should be there — if not to support the women on the team, then as a favor to yourself. If you are a true fan of the game, then you'll appreciate the play of this team. They are solid defensively and take care of the basketball — not a whole lot of silly mistakes on this team.

Lion senior Brandi Hudson attributes her team's success to being "locked in" on defense. Their performances lately validate her statement.

In its weekend win over No. 13 PSU, the Lions held a Gorilla squad averaging 78.5 points per game to 65 points. In its win over No. 18 Drury, MSSU held the Panthers to a season-low 57 points and logged 12 steals in an 80-57 blowout. In its 78-66 win over then No. 3 Central Missouri, Southern held the Jennies well below their 75 ppg average.

In order to extend their winning streak to seven, the Lions will need to stop Fort Hays' Katie Wagner, who is averaging 18.3 ppg. Missouri Southern is led by (you could insert any one of several names here). The Lions feature arguably the most balanced scoring attack in the league. On any given night, any one of six or seven players have the capability of taking over a game.

As a fan of the game, this is my favorite type of team.

As Forrest Gump would say, they are like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you're going to get.

It could be Kryslyn Jones (12.4 ppg), Kaitlin Hunnicutt (12.0 ppg), Hudson (11.8 ppg), Ryan Franklin (10.4 ppg), Maggie Sockey (9.2 ppg), Mia Topping (8.8 ppg) or Reese Webb, who logged a team high 15 points against PSU. Or it might just be a combination of any number of these players who take control of the game.

The Tigers currently sit in a three-way tie with Nebraska Kearney and Northwest Missouri for the top spot in the MIAA standings. The Lions, PSU and Washburn are all tied for second at 5-2.

MSSU could shake up those standings Thursday when they face the Tigers and on Saturday, when they host Nebraska-Kearney.

I witnessed what this team can do in a hostile environment like PSU, I am definitely looking forward to seeing how they perform in front of a (hopefully) large crowd at home. I hope you are, too.

Tip off for Thursday's game is 5:30 p.m. Saturday's game against Nebraska-Kearney is 1:30 p.m.

The MSSU men's team follows the women both days.