MSU plays Wichita State at 6:07 p.m. Friday
March 13, 2014
St. CHARLES, Mo. -- The Missouri State Lady Bears pulled away from a one-point halftime lead Thursday and closed out Southern Illinois with a 15-0 run to defeat the Salukis by a 61-39 final in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at The Family Arena.
Missouri State’s (14-16) defense allowed its lowest point total of the season and the fewest for an MSU club since December 2010, holding SIU (5-25) to under 30 percent shooting for the game to earn a quarterfinal match-up with second-seeded Wichita State (23-6) at 6:07 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Bears held Southern Illinois without a point for the first 5:45 of the game and the final 5:22, jumping to a 7-0 lead before the first half tightened up. The Salukis led just one time in the game at 24-23 with 38 seconds left in the first period before Katie Palmer’s jumper with 27 ticks on the clock gave MSU a 25-24 lead at the break.
The second half began much like the first ended until a Desiree Phillips 3-pointer followed by a transition layup from NiJay Gaines and a Hillary Chvatal layup gave MSU its largest lead of the game at 38-30 with 11:17 remaining.
Tyonna Snow then contributed to six quick points in 68 seconds, scoring twice and assisting a Lexi Hughes layup for a 44-32 lead and 8:11 on the clock, and the Salukis pulled within seven points twice before going cold after scoring with 5:22 remaining.
Hannah Wilkerson’s long trey with 4:26 left put the Lady Bears up 50-39, Mikala McGhee added another triple and Gaines snagged her career-high 10th rebound and scored for a 56-39 advantage. Palmer then added two free throws and Hughes buried a 3-pointer to cap the closing 15-0 run.
Wilkerson paced the Lady Bears with 12 points and five assists, while Snow added 12 points and three steals. The sophomore’s three steals gave her 89 for the season and moved her to eighth place on MSU’s single-season list, while she also became the third player in school history to attempt 200 free throws in a season, joining Jackie Stiles (who did it four times) and Jessie McVay.
Gaines’ 10 rebounds helped MSU to a 48-35 margin that included 21 offensive boards. MSU shot 50 percent in the second half and turned 22 SIU turnovers in 23 points.