ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Missouri State was in control throughout the first half of Saturday’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal match-up with Indiana State, scoring 27 of the first 34 points to cruise into the break with a 43-28 advantage. Led by Jaleshia Roberson’s nine points, the MSU bench out-scored ISU’s reserves by a 19-0 margin in the opening half, and the Lady Bear defense forced 11 turnovers and limited the Sycamores to 3-of-14 (.214) shooting from beyond the arc.
Both offenses struggled in the early moments of the contest, as neither team put any points on the board until the 16:53 mark, when Christiana Shorter corralled a loose ball in the paint and converted from point blank. That bucket would get the ball rolling for the Lady Bears, who would catch fire to connect on nine of their next field goal attempts over the ensuing four-and-a-half minutes to ultimately build a 20-point lead.
Just as it did in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Drake, the Lady Bear bench played a critical role in the MSU attack. Roberson drained a three with 14:43 to play, then buried two more long triples over the ensuing two minutes to stake the Lady Bears to a 21-5 advantage.
Roberson got some help from fellow junior Lacey Boshe, who tallied six points in the first nine minutes of play and eight points altogether in the period. Her two free throws at the 11:33 mark hiked the gap to 27-7 for MSU’s largest lead of the half.
Behind three-pointers from Kelsie Cooley and Brittany Schoen, the Sycamores were able to pull to within 13 in the final minute of the half, before Casey Garrison knocked down a pair of free throws with one second left on the clock to close out the first-half scoring.
Garrison would lead all scorers with 10 points in the first half, six of which came after she sustained a cut above her left eye that required six stitches to close. In all, eight players cracked the scoring column for MSU, which shot .432 (16-of-37) from the floor and was a perfect 8-of-8 at the foul line as a team.
Taylor Whitley paced the Sycamore attack with nine points and four assists, while Shannon Thomas added six points and seven boards.