by Ben Adamson
Alexa Willard and
Elle Ruffridge combined for 50 points and 10 3-pointers to lead the Missouri State Lady Bears to a 79-51 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus
Christi in the first round of the Preseason WNIT at JQH Arena.
The victory advances to the Lady Bears (2-0) to a high-profile second round game at Boise State (2-0) for a 3 p.m. Central tip on Sunday, Nov. 10. Like Missouri State, the Broncos are receiving top 25 votes and played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Willard tied career highs with 30 points and 4 treys, shooting 12-for-18 from the floor, while Ruffridge established new marks with 20 points and six 3-pointers as the first Lady Bear to hit that many threes since Liza Fruendt in March 2017.
Willard scored three seconds after the opening tip, Ruffridge buried a triple 26 seconds later, and the Lady Bears were off to the races, leading 12-2 at the first media timeout and 30-7 with 7:46 left in the first half after a 14-0 run.
Missouri State shot 55 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes for a 42-21 lead at intermission, pushed the margin to 57-30 after Willard scored 11 points by the 3:16 mark of the third quarter, and led by as many as 29 in the fourth when Ruffridge drained her sixth trifecta.
Jasmine Franklin grabbed 11 rebounds to help MSU lead 36-34 in that category, and the Lady Bears held a 30-12 scoring edge in the paint. Mya Bhinhar dished out four of MSU’s 18 assists, and she joined Franklin and Ruffridge with three steals apiece to help Missouri State to 13 thefts as a team.
Missouri State shot 48.3 percent overall, 10-for-23 from distance, and 13-for-15 at the foul line after making its first 20 attempts of the season. MSU is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2003.