Jackson leads Lady Bears past Bradley

SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State women’s basketball improved to 13-3 (4-1 MVC) on the season with a 66-46 victory against Bradley (3-12, 0-6 MVC) here on Thursday night.

The victory marked MSU’s 15th-straight home win and its 19th consecutive win at home against Missouri Valley Conference opponents.

Back at home, the Lady Bears opened up the game with a 5-2 lead following a Mariah White layup and Sydney Wilson three-pointer. Despite the early lead, Bradley answered with an 11-0 run to take an eight-point lead over MSU.

The Lady Bears were able to put a stop to the Braves’ run with baskets from Wilson and Paige Rocca, but after shooting just 19 percent in the first quarter, MSU trailed 13-9 after the first 10 minutes. Wilson was the Lady Bears’ leading scorer in the opening period with five points.

Missouri State responded quickly at the start of the second quarter, with Abi Jackson scoring the first seven points out of the quarter break to help the Lady Bears retake the lead, 16-13.

After a Bradley jumper to make it a one-point game, Missouri State went on a quick 5-0 run at the 2:08 mark, which included a couple of trips to the free throw line, to extend the lead back to six points. Bradley knocked down a jumper with :35 left to make it a 21-17 game in favor of the Lady Bears headed into halftime.

Missouri State was dominant defensively in the second quarter, as the Lady Bears held the Braves to just four points on 17 percent shooting. Offensively, Jackson scored all eight of her first half points in the second quarter on 50 percent shooting from the field.

The Lady Bears came out firing to start the second half as they went on an 8-0 run, with the first four points of the run coming via Jackson.

Following a Bradley field goal, the Lady Bears and Braves swapped five-point runs to make it a 10-point game halfway through the third quarter. Then, the Lady Bear defense took over once again, holding Bradley scoreless for nearly three minutes to extend the Missouri State lead to 17 points. In the final minute of the third period, Jackson scored five more points to keep the lead at 17 points heading to the final quarter at JQH Arena.

Picking up right where she left off, Jackson opened the fourth quarter with a layup that marked a career-high-scoring performance for the fifth-year senior.

While the Braves had their best scoring quarter of the night in the final period with 17 points, the Lady Bears were able to hold and extend their lead, as Rocca connected on her first three-pointer of the night in the fourth to give the Lady Bears their first 20-point lead of the game.

Calip connected on a couple of fast-break opportunities before freshman Isabelle Delarue drained a three-pointer with just under two minutes left to give Missouri State its largest lead of the night at 22 points. Bradley drove and scored on a layup with :05 remaining, but the Lady Bears were able to cruise to a 66-46 victory on Thursday night.

Jackson led Missouri State with a career-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks on the night, while Wilson turned in a 15-point, nine-rebound performance. Senior Mya Bhinhar, who currently ranks seventh in the nation with a 2.89 assist-to-turnover ratio, tied her career high with eight assists on the evening to just one turnover.

The Lady Bears will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 22 at JQH Arena to take on Illinois State. First tip is set for 2 p.m.

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