Lady Bears bounce back with 82-60 behind Willard’s 29 points

SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State scored 55 points on 73 percent shooting in the second half Sunday afternoon to earn an 82-60 against Bradley at JQH Arena.

The Lady Bears went 24-for-33 (.727) from the field in the final 20 minutes, the highest shooting percentage for a half in arena history, to improve to 15-8 overall and 11-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play and maintain a share of first place in the league standings.

Junior Alexa Willard scored a career-high 29 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including 19 on 9-for-11 in the second half, and shot the Lady Bears to a 25-22 lead late in the first half after MSU trailed 14-6 nine minutes into the game.

It was 27-all at the break before both teams came out of the locker room on fire, as Missouri State shot 13-for-18 in the third quarter, while Bradley (17-7, 7-6) went 8-for-11 but committed six turnovers in the period to help MSU lead 53-47.

Brice Calip’s corner trey with 9:10 remaining gave MSU its largest lead yet at 56-47, the Braves closed to 57-52, and the Lady Bears rattled off a decisive 15-1 run over the next four minutes to widen the margin to 72-53 with 4:03 remaining. MSU allowed Bradley just three field goals on 15 attempts in the final quarter.

Calip and Emily Gartner scored nine each for Missouri State and Jasmine Franklin added eight to go with 10 rebounds, her sixth double-digit game of the season. The Lady Bears owned a 36-31 rebounding lead, winning on the glass for the 20th time in 23 games.

Missouri State shot 34-for-63 (.540) overall and made half of its 12 attempts from beyond the arc, including 3-for-4 from Willard and 2-for-2 from Sydney Wilson. The Lady Bears collected nine steals off 22 BU turnovers, as Calip led the way with three steals and three assists.

The Lady Bears hit the road Feb. 22 and 24 for games at Valparaiso and Loyola.

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