by Ben Adamson
18th-ranked Missouri State Lady Bears used a 19-2 run in the second
half to pull away from former Missouri Valley Conference rival Wichita
State Wednesday evening at JQH Arena,
winning 68-55 to continue their best start since the 2003-04 season by
improving to 8-1 overall and 4-0 at home.
Sophomore Jasmine Franklin picked up her fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 4-for-4 from the field to extend her streak to 15 consecutive makes and tying a career high with four blocked shots. Alexa Willard surpassed 1,200 career points with 14 on the night, and Brice Calip scored 12 while shooting 7-for-8 at the foul line.
The Lady Bears had nine turnovers in the first 12 minutes on the way to an 18-14 deficit and trailed 25-20 midway through the second quarter when Franklin’s 3-point play ignited a closing 9-0 run for a 29-25 halftime lead.
A Willard 3-pointer with 6:04 left in the third period made it 38-31, and the Shockers (4-3) rallied to a one-point deficit on two occasions, the last at 41-40, before the Missouri State defense clamped down to hold WSU to 1-for-12 shooting over the next six minutes.
Meanwhile, the Lady Bears connected on eight free throws followed by one of Sydney Wilson’s two treys for the first 11 points of a 19-2 run that ended on back-to-back with Willard baskets for a 60-42 lead with 5:01 left in the game.
The Shockers answered with a 9-0 run but got no closer, as the Lady Bears held WSU to 32 percent shooting in the second half and were plus-eight on the boards for a final 42-37 margin in that category.
Missouri State shot 43.4 percent overall to exceed 40 percent for the ninth straight game and went 17-for-22 at the foul line with 19 attempts in the second half. The Lady Bears blocked a season-high eight shots and limited the Shockers to 0-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The Lady Bears’ eighth win of the year ties six other MSU teams for the most in school history prior to the start of MVC play and was the team’s 32nd win since Dec. 20 of last season.
Missouri State is off until a 3 p.m. home game with Missouri on Sunday, Dec. 15.