Lady Bears Improve to 3-2 with 73-50 Win over UALR
Jasmine Malone
Jasmine Malone

Nov. 29, 2011

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri State Lady Bears used a pair of key scoring runs and some stingy defense to take control early against UALR, then came up with a big finish to thwart the Trojans comeback bid in a 73-50 MSU victory Tuesday evening at JQH Arena.

After UALR used a 24-7 second-half scoring run to cut a 30-point deficit down to 13 with just under five minutes to play, the Lady Bears (3-2) turned to their top three scorers to ice the contest. Casey Garrison, Jaleshia Roberson and Christiana Shorter combined for 12 points down the stretch, as MSU outscored the Trojans 14-4 in the final 4:42 to wrap up the win.

Garrison finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with four assists and two steals, while Jasmine Malone added 13 points and game highs of nine rebounds and three steals. Roberson also posted a double-digit scoring effort, totaling 13 points and a game-high five assists.

The 23-point decision came after one of Missouri State's best halves of basketball to open the game. Led by a .486 (18-of-37) collective shooting effort from the field, the Lady Bear offense was clicking early, as five different Lady Bears accounted for a total of 14 assists on MSU's 18 makes from the floor.

MSU dominated the interior over the game's first 20 minutes, finishing with a 22-8 advantage in points in the paint and a 21-16 rebounding edge. The Lady Bear defense did its job as well, forcing 10 turnovers and holding the Trojans to a 33.3 (8-of-24) field goal percentage for the period.

Roberson shook off the effects of a shoulder injury that forced her to the sideline late in Saturday's 85-79 win at Oral Roberts by knocking down her first two three-point attempts of the game. The senior guard tallied eight straight points during a 10-0 Lady Bear scoring run that handed the home team an early eight-point advantage just minutes into the contest. Garrison initiated the spurt with a runner in the lane 49 seconds into the game, and Roberson drained back-to-back treys before converting a layup off a steal to make it a 10-2 ballgame.

After UALR's Taylor Gault drew the Trojans to within five via a conventional three-point play, MSU reeled off a 24-6 run over an eight-minute span to push its lead to 23 points. Garrison powered the outburst by canning a pair of threes, the last of which gave the Lady Bears a 19-point cushion with 9:00 left on the clock. Malone followed with five straight points to cap the spurt, sinking the Lady Bears' fifth three of the half at the 7:16 mark to stretch the margin to 34-11.

The Lady Bears' lead never dipped below 19 the rest of the half, with Malone's steal and feed to Lacey Boshe for a layup with just eight seconds to go capping the scoring and handing MSU its biggest lead of the game.

Missouri State expanded the gap to 30 points in the early stages of the second half, getting a Garrison layup and four Malone free throws to claim a 52-22 advantage with just over 16 minutes to play.

The Trojans would score the next 11 points to cut the margin to 19, as Marian Kursh and Megan Williams recorded four points apiece to spark the run. In contrast, Missouri State's offense sputtered, converting just one of its first 12 tries from the field in the second half. Additonally, the Lady Bears committed nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the stanza after giving the ball away just three times the entire first period.

Garrison ended the dry spell with a pair of free throws with 10:11 to go, then cleaned up her own miss with a short putback to push the lead back over the 20-point mark.

But UALR came back again, as Janette Merriex brought the Trojans to within 56-41 by hitting a pair of threes over the ensuing two minutes. Kursh added a three-point play, and Taylor Ford banked home a 19-footer with just under five minutes to play to pul the visitors to within 13.

That's when Shorter went to work, scoring the next five points over a one-minute, 13-second stretch that gave Missouri State all the breathing room it would need. Garrison added a short jumper and a pair of free throws, and Roberson put the final nail in UALR's coffin with her third three-pointer of the night with 1:26 left to make it a 22-point game.

MSU closed out the win despite shooting just .333 (7-of-21) from the floor and turning the ball over 13 times after intermission. The Lady Bears converted 17-of-19 (.895) free throw attempts, including 12-of-13 in the second half, and outscored UALR by a 34-14 margin in the paint.

Both Kursh and Merriex tallied 13 points to lead the Trojans (2-4), who finished the night 18-of-51 (.353) from the floor.

Up next, Missouri State hosts East Tennessee State next Tuesday (Dec. 6) in a 7:05 p.m. game at JQH Arena.



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