SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State posted its highest scoring output in six years Thursday evening in a 94-71 victory against former Missouri Valley Conference rival Wichita State at JQH Arena.
Alexa Willard (17), Liza Fruendt (15), Danielle Gitzen (13), Brice Calip (10) and Abby Hipp (10) gave the Lady Bears five double-figure scorers for the first time since February 2015, while Aubrey Buckley, Lee Ann Polowy and Shameka Ealy all finished within a basket of 10 points.
MSU (2-6) went 25-for-26 from the foul line, tying a 2006 game against Drake for the highest percentage in school history based on a minimum of 20 attempts, and the teams were on the cusp of an NCAA record for combined free throw percentage with a 36-for-37 start before the Shockers (2-8) missed a pair late. Missouri State’s overall free throw shooting record is a 16-for-16 effort against Drake in March 2001, and Thursday’s .962 percentage is the fourth-best in the NCAA this season.
The Lady Bears trailed for just 26 seconds in the contest, and Willard sprinted out of the gate with 11 of her career-high point total in the first 7:02 of the game. MSU led 26-18 after a quarter, and the Shockers closed to 28-24 early in the second period before a Polowy triple with 4:55 left capped an 11-2 run with a 39-26 lead.
Fruendt scored MSU’s next eight points for a 47-32 advantage, and Polowy beat the halftime buzzer with another trey to make it 54-37. Gitzen opened the second half with a 3-pointer for a 20-point lead, and WSU cut the gap to 13 points on three occasions before Ealy’s shot in the lane made it 73-53 with 2:47 to play in the third quarter.
Missouri State put the game away with a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to lead 91-65 with 5:32 to play, and did not score again until Ealy buried a three with 33 seconds left to give MSU its highest scoring total under Kellie Harper.
The Lady Bears shot 44.1 percent overall and 9-for-22 from long range, while the Shockers went 0-for-8 from distance to become the first MSU opponent without a 3-pointer since March 4, 1999.
Missouri State held a 40-26 rebounding edge and scored 20 points off 18 offensive boards. Ealy grabbed a team-high six rebounds and Buckley, Calip and Emily Gartner hauled in five apiece. Freshman Elle Ruffridge dished out five assists, and the Lady Bears finished with 15 helpers against nine turnovers.
Freshman Abby Hipp went 4-for-4 from the floor for her 10 points, and Calip was 8-for-8 from the foul line.
The Lady Bears look to make it two in a row when they host Oral Roberts (6-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday.