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Southern women top No. 13 Pittsburg State

Jan. 9—PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Missouri Southern women go into a basketball game Thursday against another ranked opponent, but they do so having knocked off the last three ranked opponents they faced.

On Saturday, the women extended their winning streak to six games with a 71-65 win over No. 13 Pittsburg State on Saturday at PSU's John Lance Arena.

The Lions recorded an 80-57 road win over then-No. 18 Drury on Dec. 31 and a 78-66 win over then-No. 3 Central Missouri on Dec. 14 in Warrensburg.

Defense and ball control were the order of the day for the Lions on Saturday, as they gave up the ball just five times and logged 10 assists.

The Gorillas got on the board first, with a trey by Grace Pyle. MSSU answered with a Mia Topping drive to the basket. A Macie Mays putback gave PSU a 5-2 lead at 7:34. Topping again answered for the Lions, this time with a short jumper to make it 5-4.

Brandi Hudson snagged a rebound of her own shot and gave the Lions their first lead with a putback to make it 6-5 with 6:22 left. Southern's Reese Webb scored to make it 8-5, before PSU's Pyle hit her second three of the quarter to tie the game at 8-8.

A Kaitlin Hunnicutt banked 3 gave Southern back the lead, and a Maggie Sockey bucket put the Lions up 13-8 with three minutes left. MSSU outscored PSU 6-4 during the final three minutes to take a 19-12 lead going into the second frame.

The Gorillas (11-2, 5-2) opened the second quarter with a 7-2 run and evened the game at 25-25 off a Pyle drive to the basket with about five minutes left in the half. Kryslyn Jones gave the lead back to Southern with a bucket at 4:40 to make it 27-25.

Southern (9-4, 5-2) outscored the Gorillas 7-4 down the stretch to go into the locker room with a 5-point lead at the half.

Mira Khan put the Lions up 36-29 to open the third quarter, but PSU went on an 8-0 run that gave the Gorillas their first lead since 5-4 early in the game. That lead was short-lived and the last time the Gorillas would hold the lead in the game.

Southern's Reese Webb stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer at 6:23 to make it a 39-37 game. The Lions maintained their lead, and at 48-46 Southern's Jones hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put MSSU up 51-46 going into the final quarter.

PSU put together a 5-0 run to climb to within a point of MSSU at 52-51 at 8:30. The Gorillas stayed within a singe possession until a Hudson rebound and putback and a Hunnicutt score put MSSU up at 61-54 with about 2:30 left in the game.

As the Gorillas looked to extend the game down the stretch, Topping hit 7 of 8 free throws for the Lions as they went on for the win.

Southern finished with four players in double figures. Webb led the Lion attack with 15 points, while Hudson had 14 points and led the team in rebounds with eight. Both players also logged two steals each, and Hudson led the team with five assists and no turnovers. Ryan Franklin had 12 points and six rebounds, and Topping had 11 points.

"Defense correlates with offense," Hudson said after the game. "If we make good plays and share the ball, we'll have fun."

Webb talked about the Lions six-game winning run.

"We're on the streak because we are locked in and we are motivated," Webb said. She also commented the team's focus on ball security and how that has improved as the season has progressed.

"I think we didn't value the ball as much earlier. We had tons of turnovers, the coaches told us we need to value every possession," Webb said. "We've flipped that now, and it has really helped."

Pyle led PSU with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Gerber pitched in 17.

As a team, the Lions recorded 10 assists to just five turnovers. The MSSU bench dominated the Gorilla bench players 30-6.

"Our kids have done a great job on the defensive end locking in," Southern coach Ronnie Ressell said. "They have bought in and done an incredible job for us on the defensive end."

Up next for the Lions is a 5:30 p.m. game against Fort Hays State on Thursday at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. They face the University of Nebraska-Kearney at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, also at home.