Lady Bears pull away from Aces for 81-55 road win

The No. 22 Missouri State Lady Bears out-scored Evansville by 20 points over the final 17 minutes Sunday afternoon for an 81-55 Missouri Valley Conference win over the Purple Aces at Meeks Family Fieldhouse.

The Lady Bears (16-3, 6-1 MVC) collected 15 steals off 22 Evansville turnovers – season highs in both categories – and owned a 38-21 rebounding edge to earn their 15th MVC road win in the last 16 tries.

MSU trailed 10-8 midway through the first quarter before clamping down defensively to hold UE (3-16, 0-8) without a field goal for nearly eight minutes and build a 23-11 lead with 6:59 until halftime. The lead grew to 27-13 with 5:40 left on two of Abby Hipp’s 11 points, but that was MSU’s final field goal of the half as the Lady Bears added six free throws to a 33-24 lead at intermission.

The Purple Aces closed to 39-33 early in the third quarter, Alexa Willard’s 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run in response, and Elle Ruffridge scored eight points in 70 seconds to make it 56-37 with 1:40 on the clock.

Missouri State led by at least 16 points for the remainder of the game, closing on a 10-0 run for its largest lead at the final margin.

Jasmine Franklin scored a game-high 17 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals, and Brice Calip added 15 points, five boards, four assists and three steals. Willard finished with 13 to pass Karen Rapier for 16th on MSU’s career scoring list.

Sydney Wilson nabbed a career-high four steals, and the Lady Bears shot 46.2 percent overall, 4-for-15 from 3-point range and 17-for-21 at the foul line. Evansville shot 51.2 percent from the floor but managed 22 fewer shots than Missouri State thanks to the turnover and rebound differentials.

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