The opening night of Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball action proved how difficult it is to steal a victory on the road in league play, as three of four home teams registered wins. Missouri State won its fifth straight game, in come-from-behind fashion, over Bradley, while Illinois State toppled Drake and Wichita State downed UNI. Preseason favorite Creighton was the lone squad to win on the road, topping Indiana State.
MISSOURI STATE 72, BRADLEY 67
MSU (9-3, 1-0 MVC); BU (4-7, 0-1 MVC)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State Lady Bears outscored Bradley 13-4 over the final four minutes of regulation to come away with a 72-67 comeback win in their Missouri Valley Conference opener at JQH Arena Thursday afternoon. Lacey Boshe came up big for MSU, turning in a career-best 24 points to lead the Lady Bears' rally from a 12-point, second-half deficit.
Boshe's steal and breakaway layup with 5:43 to play drew Missouri State even with the Braves for the first time since the opening minute of the contest, and the sophomore forward would go on to score six more points down the stretch to help MSU post its fifth straight victory.
MSU's late rally began just as the Lady Bears' prospects looked bleakest. Trailing 55-46 with 9:50 to play, sophomore guard Jasmine Malone blocked a Raisa Taylor shot, but came down awkwardly and had to be helped off the court. The home team would reel off seven unanswered points to draw to within two points moments before Boshe's critical steal and drive to the basket knotted the score.
BU recovered behind the play of Taylor, who tallied the Braves' next six points to momentarily give her team a 63-59 edge.
But Missouri State made its final push, getting a Casey Garrison jumper that rolled around the rim twice before falling to inch to within two once again. Then, with 3:15 remaining, Melissa Busby got an open look from the left wing and sank the 113th three-pointer of her MSU career to put the Lady Bears on top for good.
In all, the Lady Bears would score nine straight points to build a 68-63 lead before the Braves would finally answer. BU would get no closer than three points the rest of the way, however, as a Boshe jumper and free throws from Garrison and Busby in the final minute would put the game on ice.
The victory for the Lady Bears marked their first five-game win streak under both head coach Nyla Milleson and the Missouri State banner. The last such stretch for the Lady Bears came in March 2005 during their WNIT title run, five months prior to the University's name change from Southwest Missouri State.
Bradley seemingly had an answer for every Missouri State challenge through the first 35 minutes of the contest. The Braves led by as many as 12 points early in the second half after scoring the first six points of the period. That followed a red-hot first half for the Braves, who torched the JQH Arena nets to the tune of 17-of-27 (.630) shooting to take a 40-34 lead into the halftime locker room.
The visitors led for all but 37 seconds of the first half, grabbing the early momentum by knocking down six of their first nine field goal attempts in the opening minutes of the contest. Sparked by five straight points from Yohn, the Braves responded to five unanswered Lady Bear points with a 7-0 spurt of their own to claim a 20-10 lead, their largest lead of the half. MSU scored 14 of the next 20 points, as Boshe scored six of her 12 first-half points to pull the Lady Bears to within two points at the 6:34 mark.
Bradley (4-7, 0-1 MVC) would use an 8-2 run, capped by another Yohn trey, to make it an eight-point game again before Boshe would hit a jumper with just under a minute to go to cap the first-half scoring.
BU freshman Katie Yohn, who converted 3-of-6 three-point tries in the period, scored 13 of her 18 points in the opening half to help the Braves overcome 16 early turnovers.
Garrison joined Boshe in double figures with contributions of 15 points, seven boards, six assists and five steals. Freshman Christiana Shorter also turned in a strong all-around performance that included 11 points, four rebounds and three steals to help MSU post its first win in a conference opener since the 2004-05 season.
Missouri State (9-3, 1-0 MVC) will be back in action Saturday (Jan. 1) when they host the UNI Panthers in a 2:05 p.m. contest at JQH Arena.
ILLINOIS STATE 77, DRAKE 58
ILS (7-4, 1-0 MVC); DU (7-4, 0-1 MVC)
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State closed out 2009 in successful fashion, as the Redbirds defeated Drake 77-58 at Redbird Arena Thursday afternoon in both team's Missouri Valley Conference opener. The 'Birds were led by Ashleen Bracey, who recorded her first double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the victory over the Bulldogs.
Nicolle Lewis led all scorers with 19 points, as she shot 8-for-10 from the field and added five rebounds and a season-high four blocked shots. Maggie Krick had a solid all-around game with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists as well for the Redbirds.
The Redbirds (7-4, 1-0) dominated the boards, 44-34, as four ISU players had at least five rebounds. Emily Hanley led a strong performance from the ISU bench, with nine points and five rebounds as the Redbird subs outscored Drake 22-9.
ISU maintained a steady lead throughout the second half, and led by as many as 20 points after Krick nailed a three pointer at a 3:59 mark to make the score 71-51.
The Redbirds used a balance scoring attack in the first half to take control of the game, as Hanley (nine points), Lewis (nine points) and Bracey (eight points) contributed equally in the scoring duties. Bracey led the way with eight rebounds, as she pulled down five of the 'Birds' nine offensive rebounds in the half.
Leading 18-16 at the 11:07 mark, the Redbirds used an 8-0 run to push their advantage to 26-16 on a three point basket by Katie Broadway at the 7:06 mark. From there, ISU continued to build on their advantage as they took a 40-25 lead into the locker room.
Jordann Plummer led Drake (7-4, 0-1) with 17 points, while Rachel Hackbarth and Monique Jones each chipped in with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
ISU's first game of 2010 will be Saturday when they host Missouri Valley rival Creighton. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m.
WICHITA STATE 74, NORTHERN IOWA 64
WSU (9-3, 1-0 MVC); UNI (4-8, 0-1 MVC)
WICHITA, Kan. - The Wichita State women's basketball team (9-3, 1-0 MVC) got a game-high 21 points from Morgan Boyd and another double-double from freshman Jazimen Gordon as the Shockers defeated UNI (4-8, 0-1 MVC), 74-64, in both teams' Missouri Valley Conference opener Thursday night inside Charles Koch Arena.
Boyd's second 20-point effort in the last four games paced all scorers, while Gordon tied a career best with 14 points and posted a career-high 14 boards in her second-consecutive double-double performance. Haleigh Lankster poured in 17 points while Sheena Johnson chipped in 12 to lead WSU to a win in its conference opener for the first time since 2006.
Lizzie Boeck and Jacqui Kalin each scored 15 points to lead the Panthers, while Erin Brocka led UNI with 14 boards.
Both teams started ice cold from the field, as the squads combined to go just 4-for-16 from the field in the opening minutes. The teams worked through four ties and seven lead changes before the Shockers finally grabbed the biggest lead of the game to that point when Morgan Boyd scored on a laying that gave the Shockers a 18-15 edge with 5:15 left in the first.
The lead was short lived as UNI quickly ripped off five-straight to regain the lead, 20-18, at the 4:15 mark but a Chynna Turner putback tied the game for the fifth time in the first with three minutes left in the opening frame.
The Shocks then used a 7-0 run to break out to a 27-23 lead following Jessica Diamond's three pointer at the 1:36 mark before UNI reeled off five-straight to cut the WSU lead to one, 28-27, with :40 seconds left after a pair of Jacqui Kalin free throws. Boyd's jumper with :20 seconds left fashioned the halftime score of 29-28.
After starting the half just 2-for-8, the Shockers finished the first by going 11-for-23 to post a 41.9-percent effort from the floor in the opening frame. UNI shot 37.9-percent, while WSU scored 11 of its 29 first half points off of UNI turnovers.
The second half started much the same way as the first ended with six ties and eight lead changes in the first eight minutes after the break. WSU used an 13-5 run to break out to a 55-49 edge following a Lankster laying with 7:45 to play, the largest lead of the game for either team to that point.
Gordon's jumper stretched the Shocker lead to eight, 57-49, before Lizzie Boeck's laying snapped a near four-minute drought for the Panthers, cutting the WSU advantage to 57-51 with seven minutes to play. Another jumper by Boeck cut the WSU edge to 57-53 before Lankster drained her first three of the night to put the Shockers back up by five, 60-55, at the 5:47 mark of the second.
Boeck's 15th point of the night brought the Panthers to within three, 60-57, with five minutes left but the Shockers continued to have an answer. Gordon's jumper with 3:10 left pushed WSU's lead to 66-57, and Haleigh Lankster connected on a pair at the stripe after an intentional foul to give the Shockers its largest lead of the game, 68-57 with 2:30 left to play and UNI could never recover.
Wichita State wraps up a three-game homestead when the Shockers play host to Bradley (4-7, 0-1 MVC) at 2:05 p.m., Saturday afternoon inside Charles Koch Arena.
CREIGHTON 55, INDIANA STATE 44
CU (6-4, 1-0 MVC); INS (9-3, 0-1 MVC)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Sam Schuett scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Creighton women's basketball team to a 55-44 win at Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams at Hulman Center Thursday night. The Bluejays made 11 three-point field goals of their 15 field goals in the game as they snapped a three-game losing streak in the process. The MVC-opening win moves CU to 6-4 overall, while dropping the Sycamores to 9-3.
After Schuett hit a three-pointer to get the scoring started, the Sycamores scored the next eight points to take their largest lead of the game, up 8-3 just over five minutes into the game. ISU led 17-13 with 5:14 left in the first half before the Bluejays closed on a 16-4 run, keyed by a pair of three-pointers each from Schuett and Ally Jensen. Jensen's third three-pointer of the half with less than a minute to play gave the Jays a 29-21 lead at the break.
Seven of CU's nine field goals in the opening half were from three-point range, as the Jays finished the half by making five of their final eight shots from long range after a slow start.
The Sycamores scored the first four points out of halftime to get within four - the closest they would be in the second half. The Bluejays surged ahead by 12, leading 39-27 with 12:15 left in the game after a 10-2 run. ISU made one last push, scoring seven unanswered points, but the Jays responded by getting their lead back to double digits, up 44-34 with over eight minutes left. CU would again lead by a dozen with 5:12 remaining after Kelsey Crites beat the shot clock with her second three-pointer of the season.
CU made all 10 of its free-throws in the second half, including six in the final 1:27 to prevent the Sycamores from getting back into the game.
The Jays made 11-of-35 three-pointers to finish 31.4 percent from beyond the arc and won despite shooting just 28.3 percent from the field. CU shot a season-high 87.5 percent from the free-throw line, making 14-of-16 at the stripe. CU out-rebounded the Sycamores 41-37, after ISU entered the game with a better than plus-seven average edge in rebounding on the year.
Schuett drained a career-high five three-pointers in the game, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc to finish with a season-best 19 points. Jensen finished with nine points, all in the first half, while making 3-of-7 from long range. Kelsey Woodard led the team with four assists and three steals despite shooting 2-for-10 from three-point range. Kellie Nelson had six rebounds and blocked a career-high three shots despite playing just 13 minutes because of foul troule.
Kelsey Luna led the sluggish ISU offense with 16 points and the guard also topped the team with seven rebounds and four steals. ISU shot just 26.4 percent in the game, including 23.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Creighton returns to action when it plays at Illinois State on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. The Redbirds also won their MVC opener, topping Drake on Thursday afternoon. The Bluejays and Redbirds were the top two picks in the MVC preseason poll.