by Ben Adamson
Jasmine Franklin scored as time expired Friday afternoon to give the No. 19/21 Lady Bears a 74-72 overtime victory over Loyola
in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both clubs at Gentile Arena.
MSU’s (11-2, 1-0 MVC) first field goal in nearly eight minutes came at the most opportune time, as the Lady Bears kept pace with the Ramblers (9-3, 0-1) through the extra period with a 7-for-8 showing at the foul line.
Missouri State led 72-70 as the clock ticked under 60 seconds, and the Ramblers scored the tying basket with 58 seconds left and then forced turnover for a chance to shoot for the win. The Lady Bears made a stop and Franklin grabbed a rebound in traffic before MSU called timeout to draw up the final play. Franklin then caught the ball under the basket, pivoted and scored over a Loyola defender to secure a 12th consecutive MVC road win, extending a school record.
The Lady Bears had nine different players score in the first quarter and led 20-14 early in the second period after a 10-0 run. Alexa Willard hit three 3-pointers, including the 100th of her career, early in the second period on the way to a 31-25 lead with 5:58 until intermission, and the Lady Bears maintained that margin to 41-35 after 20 minutes.
MSU pushed its margin to eight twice in the third quarter and the Ramblers pulled within a point three times before the Lady Bears regained their halftime margin at 56-50 at the end of the frame.
A slow start to the fourth quarter allowed the Ramblers to lead 58-57 with 5:26 to play in the game, Willard got the lead back 12 seconds later with two more of her game-high 21 points, and Missouri State’s last field goal of regulation came with 2:59 to play for a 65-61 lead, with the Ramblers hitting four free throws down the stretch to force overtime tied at 65.
The Lady Bears shot 43.5 percent from the floor, 15-for-19 at the foul line and made half of their 10 3-point tries. MSU owned a 39-32 rebounding edge, overcoming an early 9-2 deficit against one of the nation’s top statistical rebounding teams.
Brice Calip added 11 points, four assists and two steals, and Franklin grabbed a team-high six boards. The win was MSU’s first in overtime since 2016, ending a streak of four consecutive losses.
MSU visits Valparaiso (8-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday.