Posted: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 9:32PM

Lady Bears overcome late surge in win over UCF



PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Missouri State got double-doubles from seniors Christiana Shorter and Whitney Edie to pace an 83-75 win over Central Florida here in the consolation round of the Hardwood Tournament of Hope here Wednesday (Nov. 21).

Shorter tallied 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Edie also snagged 10 boards and tallied 16 points in the winning effort. Kenzie Williams added 13 points for the Lady Bears, while Hannah Wilkerson contributed 12.

UCF (1-5) was led by Briahanna Jackson with a game-high 34 points.

The victory looked like a sure thing in the early going as Shorter scored 18 in the first half to lead MSU to a 39-22 advantage at the break. A put-back by Williams just four-and-a-half minutes into the second half extended the Lady Bears' lead to 50-28, the team's largest of the night.

With less than 12 minutes left in the game, Williams knocked down a 3-pointer and then scored a quick layup 35 seconds later to put Nyla Milleson's squad ahead 61-41 at the 11:04 mark, but the Knights seemed to find a spark in the final 10 minutes.

Sara DJassi hit a pair of free throws and a jumper, while Erike Jones knocked down a short jumper to spark a 6-0 UCF run and cut the Missouri State advantage to 14. Later, a trey by Jackson ended the Knights' 9-2 run and made it a 63-50 game with 9:52 remaining.

The Lady Bears would eventually push their lead back to 17 as Edie scored five points in a stretch of two minutes. Tyonna Snow's charity shot at the 7:43 mark helped MSU lead 69-52 with order seemingly restored for the moment.

But Missouri State went nearly five minutes without a field goal while UCF chewed away at the deficit.  Jackson scored nine straight points for the Knights, including a pair of 3-pointers that made it a seven-point game with 4:49 left. Later, Gevenia Carter knocked down a trey with just over three minutes on the clock that pulled the Conference USA squad within 75-69.

But the Lady Bears were game, and turned to veterans Shorter and Karly Buer down the stretch for key buckets. A put-back by Shorter gave MSU some breathing room at 77-69, and then an 18-footer by Buer at the 2:09 mark extended the Lady Bears' advantage to double figures again, 79-69.

A pair of Bry Snow free throws with 73 ticks to go put MSU on top by 11 before a traditional three-point play by Jackson in the final seconds provided the final eight-point margin of victory.

The effort by Shorter was her 22nd career double-double and ninth 20-point scoring performance. She was 12-for-20 from the field and helped MSU fire at a 53.8-percent (35-for-65) clip for the game.

MSU was just 1-for-8 (.125) from bonus distance and 12-for-20 (.600) from the line. However, the Lady Bears overcame 27 turnovers with a commanding 53-43 rebounding advantage while blocking six shots.

UCF was 26-for-81 (.321) overall from the field after firing at a 15.8-percent clip in the first half. The Knights knocked down seven 3-pointers (7-for-20) and were 16-for-26 (.615) at the charity stripe.

Carter added 14 points as the only other UCF player to score in double figures, while Jones joined Edie and Shorter with a game-high 10 rebounds, including 8 offensive boards.

In the first half, MSU fell behind 5-2 in the first two-and-a-half minutes and then reeled off 12 unanswered points to lead 14-5 at the 11:07 mark. Midway through the first stanza, Coach Nyla Milleson's troops pulled further ahead with a 9-2 sequence. Williams' put-back with just over six minutes left in the half put the Lady Bears on top 27-13 at the time.

Shorter and Wilkerson, who had 8 points in the first 20 minutes, combined to score the team's final 12 points of the first half. Wilkerson's buzzer-beater gave MSU its largest lead of the first period as MSU took a 39-22 edge into the break.

MSU will now take on UC Santa Barbara (2-2) for fifth place on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Other early scores on Wednesday saw Oregon State advance to the finals with a 68-64 win over Winthrop, while UCSB defeated Mississippi State 60-43, in the consolation bracket. Louisville is playing the late game against Gonzaga in the other semifinal.

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