PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area women’s basketball team could not correct a defensive breach and sudden offensive rut soon enough to salvage its first home game in five weeks.
Iowa Western marked the 18th and final lead change during a pivotal 12-0 run, and controlled the last 14 minutes to defeat the Lady Cardinals 76-61 on Saturday night.
Freshman forward Solape Amusan scored 15 of her 18 points in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds as every starter surpassed double figures for the Reivers (8-6).
Mineral Area hoped to compound momentum into the Christmas break after sweeping three region rivals last weekend, and established a 50-45 edge in the third quarter.
But the Lady Cardinals (9-4) were outscored 31-11 from there. Bella Sparaco netted two straight baskets on entry passes, and Jaiden Morris slashed past the MAC defense for a 57-50 Iowa Western lead.
Morris nailed a mid-range jumper following a missed layup at the opposite end, and Arielle McElroy beat Mineral Area on a fast break for a 3-point play at 72-58 with 3:11 to play.
Masyn McWilliams totaled 17 points, and Rionne Papa posted 14 points with eight rebounds and three steals as the Mineral Area starting five garnered increased minutes.
Keanna Williams attacked for a 3-point play, and Papa gathered a lob pass from Tyeshia Mitchell to bank a go-ahead basket early in the third quarter before the production stalled.
Morris finished with 14 points, and Nyah Morris-Nelson added 12 to further propel the Reivers. Sommer Blakemore had 11 points and Sparaco chipped in 10 more.
Although Iowa Western collectively pulled away through determined drives and timely jumpers, Amusan carried a healthy share of the scoring burden before halftime.
In an otherwise quiet outing for the MAC bench, Angela Sorrell battled for a tough putback and Riana Rangi-Brown added another second-chance score to restore their team’s largest lead at 33-27.
Amusan converted a putback through contact early in the second quarter, then sank a 3-pointer, jump hook in the lane and layup off a loose rebound during a personal 7-0 run.
The Lady Cards countered when McWilliams converted two free throws, and entered halftime with a 39-38 advantage. They earlier led 18-12 when Papa cleaned up a missed shot.
Williams ended with 10 points, highlighted by an early steal and transition layup, and Mitchell notched eight points in defeat as the host squad went 13-of-17 from the line.
Mineral Area will return to action Dec. 28 for a home contest against Grand Rapids (Mich.) before facing Malcolm X the following afternoon.