Lady Bears Hold Off Late ORU Run for 85-79 Victory
Nov. 26, 2011
TULSA, Okla. -- Led by Christiana Shorter's career-high 27-point afternoon, the Missouri State Lady Bears built a 19-point first-half lead, then survived a late Oral Roberts rally to notch an 85-79 victory over the Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon at the Mabee Center.
In addition to Shorter's career game, Casey Garrison chipped in 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the win, which evened MSU's season record at 2-2, while ORU suffered its first loss in six games.
Missouri State shot a blistering .568 (21-of-37) from the floor in the first half and outscored ORU 31-11 over a 10-minute stretch to take command of a back-and-forth game. The Lady Bears, who led by as many as 19 points, connected on 7-of-13 attempts from three-point range to overcome 13 first-half turnovers. Shorter converted 6-of-9 tries from the field, while Garrison went 5-of-7 to lead the MSU offense.
Despite the large lead, the Lady Bears had to bear down late to clinch the victory. Missouri State led 63-44 with 15:42 to play when ORU kicked off a 14-4 run that made it a contest once again. Three-pointers from Kevi Luper and Christian Key pulled the Golden Eagles to within 11, and Jordan Pyle's bucket with 10:20 left on the clock punctuated the run.
The Golden Eagles had one final push in them, connecting from downtown four times in the final 5:19 to ultimately cut the margin to 83-79 with 37 ticks left on the clock.
But the Lady Bears held on thanks to a pair of Shorter free throws and some solid defense that forced a pair of late misses by ORU to end the threat.
Both teams came out of the gate firing, as Luper and MSU's Jaleshia Roberson possessed the hot hand for their respective squads in the early stages of the game. Luper accounted for the Golden Eagles' first seven points, including a three-pointer at the 17:21 mark that handed the home team a 7-6 advantage.
But Roberson, who scored nine of MSU's first 10 points over the first 3:17, heated up from long-range to give the Lady Bears an early advantage. The senior drained her first three attempts from beyond the three-point arc, becoming the 21st player in school history to top the 1,000 career point mark in the process.
Shorter got into the act just before the first media timeout of the contest, as her bucket in the paint kicked off the Lady Bears key scoring run and began a stretch that would see the junior tally all 13 of her first-half points over the ensuing eight minutes. MSU extended its lead to 41-22 on a Garrison three with 5:44 left on the clock before the Golden Eagles would use an 8-0 run to draw to within 11.
But the Lady Bears once again kicked their offense into high gear, responding with eight unanswered points of their own to re-establish a 19-point cushion. Garrison, who would finish the half with 12 points, scored five straight for MSU, and Hannah Wilkerson canned her second triple of the game with 1:45 to play to cap the spurt.
MSU (.508) shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the second time in three road games this season and outrebounded the Golden Eagles by a commanding 46-31 margin.
The Lady Bears also did the job defensively, holding Luper, last year's national scoring leader, to just 17 points--10 below her average coming into the contest.
Roberson finished the day with 12 points and three assists, and Wilkerson posted career highs of 11 points, six boards and three assists.
Up next, Missouri State (2-2) returns to JQH Arena Tuesday (Nov. 29) for a 7:05 p.m., matchup against UALR.