No. 19/24 Lady Bears pull away late for win

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Missouri State held Northern Iowa to 23 second-half points Friday evening, pulling away from a 35-35 tie shortly after intermission to a 66-55 victory and handing the Panthers their first loss in the McLeod Center this season.

The No. 19/24 Lady Bears (19-3, 9-1 Missouri Valley Conference) stayed alone atop the MVC standings with their seventh win this season over a team rated 53rd or higher in the NCAA RPI, and improved to 9-3 on the road.

Missouri State hit its first four shots to lead 9-4 after two minutes and UNI (13-8, 5-5) countered with an 8-0 run that set the tone for a back-and-forth first half that included MSU leading 25-18 and the Panthers responding with a 12-3 spurt for a 30-28 advantage before Brice Calip drove coast-to-coast and scored the and-one with 0.6 seconds left to give the Lady Bears a 35-32 halftime lead.

Sydney Wilson scored five points in a 9-0 MSU run shortly after intermission for a 44-35 lead with 5:55 to play in the third quarter, the Panthers answered with consecutive 3-pointers, and MSU recovered to a 50-43 margin after three periods.

Jasmine Franklin and Emily Gartner scored on back-to-back possessions to open the fourth quarter and make it 54-43, and senior Shameka Ealy added five straight points with 5:31 to play for MSU’s largest lead at 61-46. The Panthers got no closer than nine points from there.

After trailing the rebounding battle by six at halftime, the Lady Bears rallied for a 37-32 advantage on the boards, winning on the glass for a 15th straight MVC road game. Franklin led the charge with 10 boards and 10 points for her eighth double-double of the season.

Calip and Alexa Willard shared the scoring lead with 13 each, with Calip adding four assists without a turnover and Willard surpassing 1,400 career points. All 10 Lady Bears that played scored at least two points.

Lady Bears grabbed 10 steals off 18 UNI turnovers with just eight giveaways of their own. The Panthers finished slightly better than MSU in all three shooting categories, but the Lady Bears attempted 18 more field goals thanks to 12 offensive boards and the plus-10 turnover margin.

The game was the 1,500th in program history and 895th win, and the team’s 19th victory gave Amaka Agugua-Hamilton the highest win total for a first-year head coach in program history.

The Lady Bears visit Drake (16-6, 8-2) at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Bulldogs beat Southern Illinois 91-76 on Friday for their 17th consecutive home victory.

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