(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) — The Jennies erased a 12-point first-half deficit to beat Missouri Western 59-53, clinching at least a share of the MIAA regular season title.
The Jennies (22-3, 16-2 MIAA) held a brief lead at 7-6 but Missouri Western rattled off nine-straight points to take a 15-7 lead with 11:40 left in the first half.
The Griffons maintained the lead throughout the remainder of the opening half, led by Sharniece Lewis, who tallied 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. UCM shot just 23.1 percent (6-for-26) from the floor, helping Missouri Western take a 31-23 lead into halftime.
Keuna Flax, Shelby Winkelmann and BreAnna Lewis each scored to start the second half, pulling the Jennies to within three points in the first 2:23.
Following a jumper by JaQuitta Dever that put Missouri Western ahead, 39-33, the Jennies scored the next seven points on a three-pointer by Justina Prairie Chief and four free throws from Flax to take their first lead of the game since 17:44 in the opening half.
The two teams exchanged leads four times over the next minute and both foes went without a basket for the next 3:11, until Quinnecia Twine scored on a three-point play, bumping UCM’s lead to 47-43.
The Jennies protected their lead for the remainder of the game, as the Griffons were unable to draw closer than two points. Leading 55-53 with 28 seconds left, the Jennies iced the game, sinking four-straight free throws.
Flax finished with her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 boards. Winkelmann led the Jennies with 16 points – the most for the Rhineland, Mo., native since Jan. 6 against Washburn.
With the victory, the Jennies clinch the program’s first conference title share since the 1995-96 season. Should the Jennies win their regular season finale at home against Northwest Missouri on Saturday, they will claim their first outright conference title since the 1990-91 season.