The Northeastern State women's basketball team grinded out a 56-48 victory over Missouri Southern State Wednesday night inside Jack Dobbins Field House.
The RiverHawks (17-6, 12-3 MIAA) kept pace atop the league race, while the Lions (11-11, 5-9 MIAA) have now lost eight of their last nine contests.
The green and white was led in scoring by senior guard Tosha Tyler's 17 points. Running mate Taylor Lewis added 13 as NSU struggled to a 17-for-48 (35 percent) shooting night. The team made 35 percent (9-for-26) from distance and 62 percent (13-for-21) at the charity stripe.
MSSU did not have a starter in double figures, and the team was led in scoring by reserve Johnna tenBerge. She finished with 14 points, and fellow reserve Erin Rice followed with 11 points.
The Lions shot 32 percent (17-for-53) from the field, 32 percent (7-for-22) from beyond the arc and just 41 percent (7-for-17) at the free-throw line.
Both teams committed 14 turnovers, and MSSU outrebounded NSU 39-36.
Tyler drilled a three on NSU's opening possession, and the green and white quickly built a 9-3 advantage.
A three-point basket from sophomore guard Chelsey Stricklen at 8:28 pushed Northeastern State's lead out to 23-10, but Missouri Southern State used a 21-4 run over the next six minutes to take a 31-27 lead.
Senior forward Sarah Green was able to score the last four points of the first half for the home side to ensure a 31-31 stalemate at intermission.
Both teams came out cold in the second half, as the first point did not come until 12:50 remained in the contest.
Rice made a free throw to stop the bleeding, but Tyler gave the RiverHawks the lead for good with a triple on their next possession.
MSSU stayed close over the course of the next few minutes, and trailed by just three at 43-40 with 4:17 to play. Lewis canned a trey at 3:36 to put NSU ahead by six, and in the blink of an eye the RiverHawks found themselves ahead 52-42 with 1:52 left.
The deficit proved too costly for the Lions, as the home side was able to hold on for the hard-fought eight-point victory.
Northeastern State will next head to Pittsburg, Kan., for a rematch with Pittsburg State. The RiverHawks and Gorillas will face off at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16.