Lady Bears earn first NCAA Tournament win since 2001

AMES, Iowa – The 11th-seeded Missouri State Lady Bears captured their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2001 Saturday at Hilton Coliseum, shooting 53% and burying 11 3-pointers to knock off sixth-seeded and 24th-ranked DePaul.

Junior Alexa Willard and senior Danielle Gitzen scored 20 points apiece, becoming the 27th and 28th players in school history with 1,000 career points within 52 seconds of each other in the third quarter, while Iowa native Elle Ruffridge poured in a career-high 15 points and Brice Calip scored 12.

Gitzen added eight rebounds and six assists without a turnover against the pressing Blue Demons (26-8), as Missouri State (24-9) owned a 42-31 lead on the glass on the way to its 23rd win in the last 25 games and 15th in a row away from Springfield.


A fast-paced game from the jump, the first quarter included six ties and six lead changes to a 23-23 score after 10 minutes. The Lady Bears opened the second period on a 5-0 run and never trailed again, using a 7-0 run to lead 40-29, including Mya Bhinhar’s 3-pointer that gave MSU 10 separate 100-point scorers on the season for the first time in school history.

The Lady Bears led 42-33 at half after holding DePaul, the nation’s leader in 3-pointers, to 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, and Willard and Gitzen eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in the first two minutes of the second half. Gitzen added a 3-pointer for a 55-40 advantage with 6:05 on the clock.

The Blue Demons closed to 62-55 before Ruffridge countered with a personal 5-0 run to get the lead to 69-56 late in third period, and the Lady Bears started the fourth period on an 11-2 run to grow the lead to 80-59 after a Ruffridge layup with 5:41 to go.


DePaul rattled off an 8-0 run over the next minutes, the Lady Bears countered with a 6-0 spurt for an 86-67 advantage, and the Blue Demons used another 8-0 run to pull to 86-75 with 1:11 left, but would get no closer.

Missouri State held DePaul to 10-for-35 from 3-point range and dished out 18 assists.

The Lady Bears will play third-seeded Iowa State (26-8) Monday in Ames, time TBD.

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