Lady Bears cruise to 78-55 victory over UNI
The Missouri State Lady Bears used a 16-0 second-half scoring run to take control of a tight ballgame and run away with a 78-55 victory over the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (5-10 overall, 1-3 MVC) Thursday evening in Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball action in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
MSU got key second-half performances from senior guard Tahnee Balerio and freshman guard Marisha Brown to snap a 15-game road losing streak and earn its third consecutive win. Brown scored all 11 of her points after intermission and Balerio matched that effort to lead a Lady Bear offense that shot 60 percent (18-of-30) from the floor, including 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point line in the second period.
After UNI scored on a Nicole Clausen jumper to cut the MSU lead to 32-30, the Lady Bears scored the next 16 points to take control of the game. Balerio knocked down a pair of free throws to start the run and extended the lead to 41-30 with her third three-pointer of the game at the 17:25 mark. Maggie Dwyer’s layup with 15:33 to play capped the scoring run and gave MSU an 18-point lead.
The Panthers briefly cut into the Lady Bear lead, getting three-pointers from Jacqui Kalin and Traci Ollendieck to key a 10-2 scoring burst that made it a 10-point game. But Missouri State responded by reeling off nine unanswered points to build a 59-40 advantage, and the Lady Bears never looked back.
Missouri State was able to eventually seize control of the game after staying within striking distance early despite getting off to a rough start offensively. The Lady Bears shot 40 percent from the field in the opening half to grab a 32-28 advantage at the break despite being held without a field goal for over seven minutes and hitting just one of its first 13 shots from the floor.
UNI jumped out to a 12-4 lead at the onset behind the shooting of Clausen, whose second three-pointer of the ballgame with 12:50 left in the half gave the Panthers their biggest lead of the half. The Lady Bears would score 13 of the game’s next 15 points and go on to outscore the Panthers 28-16 over the final 12:05 of the half.
Balerio registered her second double-double of the season and matched a career high with five three-pointers to finish with a game-high 19 points to go along with 10 assists. Junior forward Maggie Dwyer also finished in double figures with 14 points, while sophomore guard Melissa Busby totaled 10 points for MSU.
Missouri State shot 50 percent from the field for the game, hitting on 10-of-20 from three-point range.
Kalin led the Panthers with 15 points, while Clausen and Lizzie Boeck each chipped in 12.
Missouri State, which improved to 3-2 in the Valley and 5-11 overall with the win, will wrap up its two-game road swing with a 2:05 p.m. matchup against Bradley on Saturday in Peoria, Ill.