CARBONDALE, Ill. – Missouri State women’s basketball improved to 13-7 on the season (8-3 MVC) with a hard-fought, 70-68, victory on the road at Southern Illinois (7-13, 4-7 MVC) Wednesday night.
The Lady Bears and Salukis were locked in a back-and-forth battle throughout the entire game as the result came down to the wire, with MSU ultimately earning its second win over SIU this season.
MSU led by as many as four points in the first quarter after jumping out to an 8-4 lead, but SIU kept things close as they eventually tied things up at 13 with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter. From there, both teams went cold offensively with neither finding the bottom of the basket for the rest of the period.
The Salukis were the ones to break the scoring drought, going on a 6-0 run to start the second period and take a 19-13 lead over the Lady Bears. With the Salukis still holding a six-point lead, Missouri State exploded for a 12-0 surge, highlighted by a Taylor Woodhouse three-pointer to tie the game at 21 in the middle of the run, to take the lead and extend it to 27-21. SIU answered quickly with an Ashley Jones three-pointer and Laniah Randle and-1 to tie things at 27 points each with 1:11 left in the half. Freshman Jade Masogayo later drew a foul and made her way to the free throw line, knocking down both, to give MSU a 29-27 halftime lead in Carbondale.
Missouri State came out of the break and immediately went to work, starting the second half on a 6-2 run capped by a Masogayo layup as MSU extended its lead to six. As was the theme of the game though, the Salukis punched right back to make it a two-point contest once again. MSU then broke through the SIU pressure and Aniya Thomas knocked down a wide-open corner three to give the visitor’s a five-point, 40-35, lead.
The Salukis reeled the Lady Bear lead back in to one point at the free throw line, before Sydney Wilson scored on a layup and drew a foul, converting the and-1 opportunity with 0:02 left on the clock in the third to propel MSU to a 45-51 lead heading to the final quarter on the road.
Both squads turned in their highest scoring quarters of the night in the fourth, with SIU holding a slight 27-25 advantage. At the 7:18 mark of the fourth period, Masogayo connected on a layup to give MSU a seven-point advantage before SIU scored a bucket, immediately collected a steal and scored again, to make it 53-50 in favor of Missouri State with 6:57 left in the ballgame. Thomas then scored the next six Lady Bear points, followed by back-to-back baskets courtesy of Masogayo and Wilson to give MSU its largest lead of the night at eight points.
The Salukis were able to get back within two points late in the game, as SIU’s Aja Holmes knocked down a three with 0:12 remaining, but MSU knocked down a few crucial free throws and grabbed an important offensive board to end the game and escape with a 70-68 road victory.
Thomas turned in her fourth 20-point performance of the season with a 21 on the night. Masogayo and Wilson joined Thomas in double figures with 16 and 10 points, respectively. Indya Green was the Lady Bear leader on the glass with 11 rebounds, while also dishing out a career high four assists.
As a squad, the Lady Bears outrebounded the Salukis, 44-32. MSU also posted 19 assists and owned the advantage in second-chance points, 14-9. Missouri State improved to 9-0 on the season when scoring 70 or more points and to 13-2 when collecting more assists than its opponent.
MSU returns home to take on new Missouri Valley Conference member UIC on Saturday, Feb. 4. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. CT at Great Southern Bank Arena.
Missouri State is running a women’s basketball “1-2-3 Saturdays” ticket special. The deal consists of $1 tickets in select areas, $2 hot dogs and $3 Coca-Cola products for the Lady Bear games on February 4 and 25.