Defense leads Lady Bears to a 58-48 win over UNI

SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State forced 31 UNI turnovers and swiped 16 steals Friday at JQH Arena, giving the Lady Bears a 58-48 victory over the Panthers and setting up a huge game with Missouri Valley Conference co-leader and 23rd-ranked Drake on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Springfield.

Missouri State (18-8, 14-1 MVC) won for the 17th time in 18 games in front a season-high 3,112 fans, registering the team’s most steals since February 2016 and forcing 31 turnovers for the first time since January 2015. The Lady Bears also locked up at least the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament.

The Lady Bears never trailed, leading 8-0 after five minutes and forcing nine UNI (17-10, 10-5) turnovers in the first quarter. It was 19-11 after freshman Jasmine Franklin nabbed one of her six steals and fed Sydney Manning for a layup, and 24-13 with 4:55 until halftime after MSU turned two more UNI miscues into points during a 5-0 run.

MSU’s only scored once more before intermission, one of Danielle Gitzen’s three 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 13 points for the senior, and the margin shrunk to 27-22 after the Panthers connected from long range shortly after the break.

Franklin had five points and three steals in a 9-0 MSU run in response, and another Gitzen trey grew the lead to 39-24 with 5:46 left in the third. UNI countered with a 10-0 run over the next four minutes, but Brice Calip’s 12th and-one of the season pushed the gap back to double figures at 44-34 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game.

The Panthers had one more run in them, closing to 48-44 with 5:53 on the clock before the Lady Bears responded with an 8-0 run over the next four minutes, capped by an Abby Hipp basket with 1:51 left on the way to a career-high 11 points for the sophomore.

Franklin finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double, adding six steals, three assists and three blocks as the first Lady Bear with that statistical line since Tyonna Snow during her 2016 MVC Player of the Year season.

Missouri State finished with a 32-30 rebounding edge, winning that category for the 23rd time in 26 games, and shot 42 percent both overall and from 3-point land. UNI shot 39 percent overall and 8-for-24 from deep.

Tickets for Sunday’s game are half price in all sections, starting as low as $2 (ages 12 and under free), and are available now at MissouriStateBears.com or by visiting the Old Missouri Bank Box Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678, during regular box office hours.