SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State women’s basketball used a second-half comeback to defeat Northern Iowa 71-67 and improve to 11-7 (6-3 MVC) on the season.
The Lady Bears used lockdown defense down the stretch and made big buckets when it counted to mount a comeback victory after trailing by as many as 14 points late in the third quarter.
Despite trailing by 14 with 2:49 remaining in the third period, the Lady Bears came together and put together an improbable run, sparked by an Aniya Thomas three-pointer that was immediately followed by a Jade Masogayo fastbreak layup to cut UNI’s (12-6, 7-2) lead to nine points with a quarter to play in Springfield.
The momentum quickly carried into the fourth quarter as Kennedy Taylor connected on a jumper to open the final period before sophomore Taylor Woodhouse sent Great Southern Bank Arena into a buzz with a crucial three-pointer to make it a four-point, 57-53, ballgame with 9:22 left to play.
After a couple of UNI buckets to answer and push its lead back to six points, the Lady Bears used a 7-0 run to take their first lead since the 5:25 mark of the second period at 62-61. The run started with a Thomas layup before Indya Green sank a jumper and Sydney Wilson drove for a layup to force a UNI timeout as you could feel the momentum shift to the side of the Lady Bears. Thomas then capped the run out of the timeout with a fastbreak layup.
However, the Panthers continued to fight, scoring on back-to-back possessions to retake a three-point lead. In the intense back-and-forth battle down the stretch, the Lady Bears fought hard and locked the Panthers down on defense for the remainder of the game, not allowing a UNI point over the final 3:20.
After tying the game at 67 points apiece with 1:21 left to play, Wilson grabbed the most important rebound of the night as she pulled down an offensive board and scored on the putback to give MSU the lead for good with 0:26 on the clock, as they secured the 71-67 come-from-behind win.
Out of the gate, the game was fast-paced as the teams were tied 13-13 at the first media timeout with just 2:38 still on the clock in the first quarter. Thomas came out firing in the first quarter, leading the game with seven points on 50 percent shooting in the first period. The Lady Bears shot 53 percent from the field in the first quarter, as the game was knotted at 17-17 after the first 10 minutes.
From there, UNI had an important stretch in the second quarter that saw the Panthers finish the first half on a 12-2 run to take a seven-point, 37-30 lead over MSU headed into the halftime break. The Panthers were able to slowly build on their lead out the break, using a 7-2 scoring stretch near the midway point of the third to lead by 13, before knocking down a layup to take their biggest lead of the night at 14 points.
Four Lady Bears turned in double figure scoring performances in the victory, led by Masogayo who turned in 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the field to become the first Lady Bear to shoot 100 percent from the field (min. 6 FGA) since Abby Hipp went 7-for-7 at Boise State on Nov. 10, 2019. Green and Thomas joined her with 14-point outings themselves, as Thomas tallied her 10th consecutive game in double figure and dished out a game-high seven assists. Wilson, the winning basket-scorer, logged 11 points to pair with six rebounds and five assists (zero turnovers) on 5-for-7 shooting.
As a team, the Lady Bears shot .556 (30-54) from the field and held UNI to .188 from three-point range. MSU collected 20 assists on 30 field goals and won on the boards, 31-23, including grabbing 26 defensive rebounds.
Missouri State is back in action on Saturday, Jan. 28 as the Lady Bears welcome Drake to Great Southern Bank Arena. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CT.