Jennies win 15th straight, clinch spot in MIAA tournament

Central Missouri's Morgan Fleming drives to the basket during the No. 18 Jennies 73-60 win over Northwest Missouri State on Thursday, Feb. 6.

With a 73-60 win over Northwest Missouri State on Thursday, Feb. 6, the No. 18 Jennies secured a spot in the MIAA tournament, moving to 18-3 on the season and 12-0 in the MIAA.

Central Missouri, and specifically Nija Collier were red hot to start the game. After the Bearcats made their first shot, Collier scored eight straight with two three-pointers. Late in the period, Ryann Stearns with a drive to the basket picked up a layup and a foul and gave UCM a 17-9 lead. The Bearcats didn't go away though and closed the period on a 6-0 run to leave UCM leading 19-15 after one.

As quick as the first quarter was, the second really slowed down. The teams were matching each other and the Jennies couldn't push their lead past four. Ryann Stearns hit a pair of threes late in the half, but each time was answered by a Bearcat three. On their final possession, Ellisha Davis splashed a corner three and the Jens led 37-30 at the half.

UCM was able to get their lead back up to 10, 48-38 midway through the third period, but again the Bearcats were hanging tough. In the closing seconds, Jaelyn Haggard hit a long three and heading to the final quarter, the Jens led 58-52.

Starting the fourth, Northwest Missouri was able to get the Jennies lead down to five, 60-55, but an 8-1 run finally gave the Jennies some much needed separation.

Following two defensive stops, Morgan Fleming and Megan Skaggs were able to get inside for layups and the Jennies lead 68-56. Skaggs then came back with a three-point play and the Jennies had their largest lead, 13, 71-58. The Jens were able to run out the clock and won their 15th straight win, 73-60.

Collier finished another double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds, eight of them on offense. She was also 3-8 from three.

Morgan Fleming scored 16 with 10 coming at the free throw line. She also grabbed seven rebounds with five assists.

Ryann Stearns scored 12 on 4-8 shooting, a new career-high.

Megan Skaggs and Gigi McAtee each chipped in eight points.

The Jens shot just 39% for the game, but made 18 free throws and nine three-pointers.

UCM had another big advantage on the glass, 45-27 in the rebounding department. They grabbed 19 offensive boards and turned those into 20 second-chance points.

The Jens have won 15 straight games, their longest since a 16-game winning streak back in 2017-18.

The Jennies will look to match the longest winning streak in the Coach Slifer era at 16 games when they face Missouri Western at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, in St. Joseph.

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