Poor shooting doomed the Lady Hawks. In the contest, Kelly shot 12-for-48 from the floor, good for 25 percent.
"Poplar Bluff packed in their defense and really slowed down our inside play," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "They have a hall of fame program and coach (Kirk Chronister). They came in with a good game plan and took us out of what we like to do."
The Lady Mules jumped out to a quick start, outscoring Kelly 9-1 to open the first quarter. Jasmine Summerall led Poplar Bluff with five points in the quarter and the Lady Mules led 11-6 heading into the second quarter.
Poplar Bluff scored the first eight points of the second and led 19-6 with four minutes to play. Kelly had problems with Poplar Bluff's zone defense in the first half, going only 4-for-22 for 18 percent. Kelly trailed 24-15 heading into halftime.
"We knew coming in that Kelly likes to get the ball inside," said Poplar Bluff head coach Kirk Chronister. "We switched up to a zone defense to try and keep the ball out of the paint. I thought our girls did a nice job of fronting and backing their big girl (Debra Hall).
In the third quarter, Poplar Bluff (8-11) got off to a fast start by scoring the first seven points of the quarter and led 31-15 with 5:40 to play in the third. The Lady Mules outscored Kelly 15-6 in the quarter and had a 39-21 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Hawks cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, as Hall finally found some room in the paint. Hall scored six points in the fourth, as Kelly went on a 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 41-29 with 5:20 to play in the contest.
Kelly would only get as close as 12 points in the quarter and the Lady Mules picked up a 48-32 road win over the Lady Hawks.
"We executed well tonight," said Chronister. "The girls played with good intensity and ran the offense. We were patient on offense and responded well to how they switched from a zone to man-to-man defense late."
Point guard Stephanie Ferguson led Poplar Bluff with 16 points. Summerall finished with 14 points, a team-high nine rebounds and had four assists. Aereill Davis scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and had three steals for the Lady Mules. Forward Natalie Stonecipher also had eight points with six rebounds for Poplar Bluff.
The Lady Mules outrebounded Kelly 32-23 and led the category in team assists over the Lady Hawks, 12-3.
"We did a nice job of rebounding," said Chronister. "We concentrate on rebounding in practice and it paid off tonight because I thought we really controlled the boards. We got some easy stick backs and it was just a total team effort tonight. We don't have just one girl that can dominate for us, we rely on everybody contributing and sacrificing for the good of the team."
Hall led Kelly with 13 points and eight rebounds. Brittany Ponder scored six points and despite playing with an injured wrist, Sarah Ruff chipped in five points off the bench for the Lady Hawks.
"This was a good test for our team," said McQuerter. "Poplar Bluff is a very tough Class 5 team and we are just happy to have them on our schedule. This game can only make us better down the road."
Kelly (16-4) hosts the New Madrid County Central Lady Eagles on Thursday at 6 p.m.