Lady Bears Come Up Just Short at Bradley, 65-64
EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley converted 63.3 percent of its second-half field goal attempts to overcome a 14-point deficit and escape with a 65-64 win over the Missouri State Lady Bears Saturday afternoon. BU's Raisa Taylor scored 14 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to help the Braves move into a third-place tie with MSU in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
Sonya Harris's layin with 1:43 proved to be the game-winner, as the Braves' defense held the Lady Bears to just two field goals over the final 5:59. MSU had a pair of chances to score the go-ahead basket in the closing minutes, but MacKenzie Westcott blocked a Jasmine Malone jumper with 1:26 left, and Casey Garrison's last-second three-point attempt was off the mark.
Bradley did most of its damage from the interior, outscoring MSU 32-8 in the paint in the second half. BU also forced 22 Lady Bear turnovers on the afternoon and limited MSU to just 10-of-28 (.357) shooting after intermission.
With the loss, Missouri State (20-9, 12-6 MVC) must await the outcome of the UNI-Wichita State game to determine its seed at next week's State Farm MVC Tournament in St. Charles, Mo.
Behind freshman Christiana Shorter's 13 first-half points, the got the game off on the right foot, taking a 36-24 lead over the Bradley Braves into halftime. Just as they did in Thursday's victory at UNI, the Lady Bears raced out to an early double-digit lead, connecting on seven of their first 10 field goal attempts of the contest. Shorter had the hot hand, scoring 11 of MSU's first 20 points over the game's first 10 minutes. Her back-to-back baskets put the Lady Bears up 20-10, and a Jaleshia Roberson three-pointer with 8:52 to go pushed the MSU lead to 13.
BU's Raisa Taylor momentarily brought the Braves to within nine on a three-pointer from the right wing with 4:06 left on the clock. But Roberson answered for MSU with her third triple of the period as the shot clock wound down to push the Lady Bear lead back to 12. Shorter would then score on a putback of her own miss at the 2:08 mark to give MSU its largest lead of the half at 32-18.
The Lady Bears dominated the interior throughout the first 20 minutes, outscoring the Braves by a 16-2 margin in the paint while converting 14-of-32 (.438) field goal attempts. The MSU defense played a key role in the proceedings, forcing 14 BU turnovers and limiting the Braves to just .313 shooting.
Shorter pulled down seven boards to go along with her 13 points, and Roberson added nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range in the opening stanza.
But Bradley broke from the locker room by hitting five of its first six shots, including three field goals by Taylor, to cut the Missouri State lead in half.
Melissa Busby's three-pointer with 15:03 left on the clock briefly stretched the Lady Bears' lead back to double-digits, but that's when Bradley's duo of Taylor and Olivia Allen went to work. The two Braves combined for 12 points during a 15-4 run that saw BU claim its first lead since the game's opening minutes.
The Lady Bears responded with a 9-2 spurt, sparked by Roberson's sixth triple of the game with 8:11 to play, to take a 60-55 lead into the final five mintues of play.
But that's when the Braves' defense stiffened, holding MSU to just two more field goals while outscoring the Lady Bears 10-4 to close the contest.
Up next, the Lady Bears will head to St. Charles for their quarterfinal round match-up at the MVC Tournament on Friday against either UNI or Wichita State.