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Illinois Turns in Strong Defensive Effort to Build 29-23 Haltime Lead



SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Illinois connected on 50 percent of its first-half field goal attempts to overcome 12 turnovers and take a 29-23 lead over the Missouri State Lady Bears into the halftime locker room Thursday evening in third-round WNIT action at JQH Arena. The Illini limited the Lady Bears to just 8-of-32 shooting from the field overall, holding MSU without a basket for the final 5:42 to take their largest lead of the game into the break.

Lacey Simpson paced the UI attack with 11 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Lydia McCully added eight for the Illini. Simpson helped the visitors to an early 9-4 lead, accounting for five points in the first four minutes of the contest. Her three-pointer with just over 16 minutes to go capped a 9-2 run after Lacey Boshe had converted an 18-foot jumper on the Lady Bears’ first possession of the game.

MSU responded behind the shooting of Jaleshia Roberson, who drained the first of her two triples with 13:37 left on the clock to pull the Lady Bears to within 11-9. Casey Garrison added a pair of buckets over the ensuing four minutes to hand MSU a 16-15 edge.

 After an Aly Stock field goal at the 5:42 mark drew Missouri State to within two points once again, the UI defense would go to work, forcing three turnovers while shuting out the Lady Bears from the field to give its offense time to score six of the final eight points of the period.

Roberson led MSU with eight points on 2-of-4 shooting from behind the three line.


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