by Missouri State Athletics
trailing by 21 points early in the second half, the Missouri State Lady
Bears sliced 23rd-ranked
Drake’s lead to four points late in the game, but were unable to get
over the hump in a match-up between two teams tied atop the Missouri
Valley Conference standings at 14-1.
The Lady Bears (18-9, 14-2) fell behind 10-2 after three minutes and 41-23 at halftime, struggling to a .290 shooting percentage and minus-nine rebound margin in the first 20 minutes.
After Drake (23-5, 15-1) hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the second half to make it 44-23, the Lady Bears began a furious comeback, ripping off a 9-0 run over the next two minutes for a 46-34 deficit, and making it a 10-point game at 52-42 with 3:32 left in the third quarter on a pair of Danielle Gitzen free throws.
Brice Calip added two more foul shots with 1:23 left to get the deficit below 10 points, and MSU went 13-for-13 at the line in the third period and 18-for-21 in the game.
The MSU defense continued step up in the fourth period, limiting the Bulldogs to a single field goal over the final 10 minutes. In fact, the Lady Bears held the MVC’s top two scorers – Drake’s Becca Hittner and Sara Rhine – to a combined five points in the second half, helping MSU pull to 61-56 with 3:35 on the clock.
Emily Gartner’s free throw with 1:09 left made it 63-59, and Calip scored for 65-61 with 30.1 ticks remaining to finish with a team-high 17 points and 12 in the second half.
The Bulldogs went 5-of-6 from the line after that to close out their 29th straight MVC road win, as the Lady Bears missed their final three attempts on the way to shooting 1-for-17 from beyond the arc.
Missouri State lost the rebounding battle for only the fourth time this season, 38-36, but held Drake to 6-for-27 from long range while forcing 18 turnovers. Calip, Gitzen and Jasmine Franklin each had three steals, while Gitzen also notched team-highs of seven rebounds and three assists on Senior Day.
MSU closes out the regular season with a trip to Indiana, playing at Evansville on 6 p.m. Thursday and Indiana State at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Lady Bears are 7-0 in Valley road games this year.