Lady Bears end season in WNIT opener at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Missouri State’s 2016-17 season came to an end Thursday evening with a 95-74 loss at Iowa in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

MSU senior Lexi Hughes scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting in her 129th and final game as a Lady Bear, Aubrey Buckley scored 14 on 7-of-11 shooting, and Liza Fruendt added 11 to reach double figures for the 18th consecutive game.

The Hawkeyes, 18-13 overall and rated 64th in the NCAA RPI, shot 50 percent or better in each quarter and 62.3 percent in the game with 50 points in the paint, while Missouri State (16-15) shot 39 percent from the floor, including 48 percent in the final three quarters after a slow start. The out-sized Lady Bears grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, trailing just 37-36 overall on the boards.

Iowa jumped out to a 17-6 lead before Hughes closed the first quarter on a personal 5-0 run to make it 20-14. The senior added a 3-pointer for a 22-17 deficit with 8:30 left until halftime, but the Hawkeyes pushed the lead back into double figures two minutes later and carried a 43-30 margin into intermission.

The home team made eight of its first 10 shots in the third quarter and led 63-39 midway through the period, and the Lady Bears trailed by at least 16 points for the rest of the contest. Freshman Shameka Ealy scored MSU’s final seven points, all in the final 2:12.

Hughes added four rebounds, four assists and two steals, Danielle Gitzen dished out four assists, and eight Lady Bears grabbed between three and five rebounds.

End of Season Notes:
Missouri State finished with a winning record for the 32nd time in 48 seasons…The Lady Bears made their third consecutive postseason appearance and 21st in the last 27 years…Senior Lexi Hughes finishes her MSU career ranked third in games played (129), 29th in scoring (894), and eighth in 3-pointers made (168) and attempted (463)…Senior Rachel Swartz ends her career tied for 12th at MSU with 124 career games played…Senior Onye Osemenam leaves Missouri State ranked 11th in career blocked shots (63)…Liza Fruendt ends her junior season in the No. 20 spot on MSU’s career scoring list with 1,151 points…Fruendt’s 518 points this season are the 16th-most in school history, while her 72-for-211 showing from beyond the arc rank as the eighth- and fifth- highest season totals at MSU…Alexa Willard’s 31 starts are the fourth-most by a true freshman at MSU.