Clutch Shooting Propels UNI Past Lady Bears, 67-59
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – League-leading UNI opened the second half with a 21-7 scoring run to take control for good in an eventual 67-59 victory over the Missouri State Lady Bears Sunday at JQH Arena. The Panthers (17-5, 10-1 MVC) buried MSU with 10 three-pointers—a season-high for a Lady Bear opponent—to notch their ninth consecutive Missouri Valley Conference win, while the Lady Bears (16-7, 7-4 MVC) dropped their second consecutive home game.
Jacqui Kalin struck the biggest blows for UNI all day long, finishing with a game-high 29 points to match another Missouri State opponent season high. She knocked down a three to open the second-half scoring and start UNI’s key run, then iced the win with another trey at the 3:22 mark to answer an 11-3 MSU run that had pulled the Lady Bears to within 59-54 moments earlier.
The critical stretch of the contest saw UNI 13 of the first 16 points of the second period, with Kalin accounting for seven of those. The junior guard would nail a three from the left wing and complete a rare four-point play after drawing a foul from MSU’s Kendra Roberts with just under 16 minutes left on the clock.
That sequence handed the Panthers their first double-digit lead of the afternoon, which they would stretch to 16 points midway through the half on another basket-and-one call, this time by Rachel Madrigal.
Behind a defensive effort that would hold UNI to just 2-of-11 shooting over the final nine minutes, Missouri State would make a charge down the stretch with a 5-0 run that cut the deficit down to eight points. After UNI inched its lead back to 11 with three free throws by Lizzie Boeck, MSU’s Christiana Shorter and Casey Garrison combined for four straight makes at the foul line, and Karly Buer drilled an 18-foot jumper to get the Lady Bears to within five points with just under four minutes to play.
But that would be as close as the game would get, as Kalin came up with another big shot to stop the bleeding. MSU would hit just one more time from the field, and that wouldn’t come until just nine seconds remained on the clock.
One of the top free throw-shooting teams in the nation, the Panthers made the Lady Bears pay at the charity stripe to overcome a .304 (17-of-56) shooting performance. UNI, which got a 10-of-11 effort at the line from Kalin, converted 23-of-31 (.742) foul shots—highlighted by a 17-of-23 (.739) performance in the second half—as Missouri State was whistled for a season-high 24 fouls, including a pair of technicals.
UNI also got key contributions from senior post Boeck, who totaled a double-double of 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
UNI connected from long range six times over the first 20 minutes of the game to take a 32-30 advantage into the halftime locker room.
The Panthers hit from beyond the arc four times in the final 11 minutes of the period to offset an 10-of-30 (.333) team shooting effort. Missouri State didn’t fare much better from the field, going just 10-of-26 (.385) as a team and committing nine turnovers in the opening half.
UNI jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, thanks in large part to a technical foul assessed to MSU’s Jasmine Malone on the opening possession of the contest. Kalin—who also drew a blocking foul on the play—sank all four free throw attempts to stake the visitors to a 4-0 lead just 17 seconds into the ball game, then cannned a wide-open three from the top of the key following a Shorter layup.
Missouri State would respond, however, as Tia Mays would score four unanswered points for the Lady Bears, and Malone’s step-back three with 11:09 to play gave MSU its first lead of the day at 14-12.
But UNI’s Mercedees Morgan came right back with a trey of her own to put the Panthers back in front. And, after a pair of Shorter free throws, Boeck would convert the first of her two first-half threes at the 8:50 mark to give UNI an 18-16 lead.
MSU would reel off the next four points to grab a 20-18 advantage, but Boeck tied it with a short jumper that started a 7-0 spurt that would hand UNI its biggest lead of the half at 25-20 with 4:53 to go.
The Lady Bears fought back to tie it over the next two minutes, as Garrison hit a pair of free throws and Shorter added three straight points. Kalin would then strike from beyond the arc again with 2:20 to go, and Boeck would add one more for good measure to make it a 32-28 game. Shorter scored with 17 seconds left to account for the final margin.
Garrison paced the Lady Bear attack with 20 points, while Shorter finished with 16 points and 11 boards for her second straight double-double. Additionally, Mays registered a strong effort with 10 rebounds to go along with seven points and four blocks.
Next, Missouri State will embark on its longest road swing of the MVC season Thursday (Feb. 10), when the Lady Bears begin a three-game trip with a 6:05 p.m. (Central) contest against Indiana State in Terre Haute.