Lady Bears drop season opener to Iowa, 79-70
The Missouri State Lady Bears opened their 2006-07 season with a 79-70 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday in the opening round of the WBCA/MetroSports Preseason Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
Missouri State battled back from an early 12-point deficit on the strength of freshman Melissa Busby’s five first half three pointers, but Iowa converted 14 of 15 second half free throw attempts to hold off the Lady Bears’ comeback bid. Iowa sophomore Kristi Smith scored 10 of the Hawkeyes’ first 15 points in the ballgame, then calmly sank each of her eight free throws in the second half to seal the victory.
Iowa led 24-12 with just over seven minutes remaining in the opening half when Busby knocked down the first of her five treys, the last of which gave the Lady Bears a 32-31 advantage with 1:41 left in the half. The Hawkeyes responded with a 4-0 run to take a 35-32 lead into the locker room, but freshman guard Tag Morris canned a three-pointer from the right wing just 13 seconds into the second half to knot the score.
The Hawkeyes leaned heavily on the play of 6-2 forward Wendy Ausdemore and the free-throw shooting of Smith throughout the second half to take control of the game. Ausdemore, who scored 10 points in the half to finish with 15, knocked down a big three-pointer with 5:49 left on the clock to extend the Iowa lead to 59-52 moments after Tahnee Balerio’s three brought the Lady Bears to within four points. Missouri State cut the margin to five on a Roxy Stiles lay-up with 1:56 to go, but Smith went 6-for-6 from charity stripe in the final minute of the ballgame to keep the Lady Bears at bay.
Balerio led the Lady Bears with 14 points in the second half and finished with game-highs of 23 points and nine assists.
Busby cooled in the second half, missing all three of her attempts from beyond the arc, to finish with 15 points, while Morris and Stiles turned in solid efforts as well, scoring nine and eight points, respectively.
Iowa connected on 19-of-21 free throw attempts and shot 45% (27-of-60) from the floor in the contest, while the Lady Bears made 10 of their 12 free throws and went 25-of-62 (40.3%) from the field. The Hawkeyes also out rebounded Missouri State, 38-34, and finished the game with a 24 to 16 scoring advantage in the paint to overcome 23 turnovers.
Smith tallied 20 points to lead the Hawkeyes, while sophomore center Megan Skouby chipped in 15 points and grabbed six rebounds. Junior forward Jenee Graham led all rebounders with 10 boards.
Missouri State will take on Seton Hall in the consolation game at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Municipal Auditorium, before opening the home portion of the schedule Nov. 20 against Arkansas State.