Lady Bears Win JQH Opener, 61-52, Over Arkansas State
SPRINGFIELD -- It may not have been as attractive as their new home, but the Missouri State Lady Bears’ 61-52 victory over Arkansas State Sunday (Nov. 23) afternoon gave the MSU women their first notch in the win column in 2008-09, and capped a memorable opening day at JQH Arena. Missouri State’s freshmen trio of Casey Garrison, Jaleshia Roberson and Lacey Boshe accounted for 47 of the Lady Bears’ 61 points, as MSU prevailed in a game that saw the two teams combine to turn the ball over 56 times.
Garrison scored eight of her game- and career-high 21 points during a 15-0 Missouri State scoring run at the start of the second half, then knocked down a critical 18-footer with 1:57 left in the game that gave MSU a 54-50 lead moments after the Red Wolves had cut what was once a 16-point margin to just two points.
Boshe followed with a putback of a Roberson miss to push the lead to six points with just 0:51 to go, while Garrison and Roberson combined to go 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final minute of play to seal the win.
In all four Lady Bear freshmen scored the final 29 Missouri State points of the contest and 32 of MSU’s 33 second-half points. Roberson finished with a career-best 16-point day to go along with three assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots, while Boshe registered the first double-digit scoring effort of her young MSU career, tallying 10 points, six boards and two steals.
The victory for the Lady Bears came in spite of a 34-turnover afternoon. MSU’s defense picked up the slack, forcing 22 Arkansas State turnovers and limiting the Red Wolves to just 26.5 percent shooting from the floor for the game.
For the third straight game, Missouri State charged ahead early only to see its lead slip away late in the first half. Roberson banked in a 15-footer just 43 seconds into the contest for the first official Lady Bear points in JQH Arena, starting an early blitz that saw MSU jump out to a 17-6 advantage.
Arkansas State, on the other hand, staggered out of the gate, hitting just three of its first 21 shots of the ballgame. ASU managed to cut its deficit to five points at the 7:10 mark on an Ebonie Jefferson field goal, but Roberson answered with a three-pointer from the right wing to end a four and-a-half minute scoreless streak for the Lady Bears and stretch the margin back to eight.
The Red Wolves kept inching closer by forcing 18 Missouri State turnovers in the first half and limiting the Lady Bears to just 11 points over the final 11:10 of the period. That effort, capped by an 8-0 scoring run over the final 2:45 before the break, allowed the visitors to crawl all the way back from its early deficit to even the score at 28-28 at the half.
But, keyed by a pair of Garrison three-point field goals, MSU reclaimed the lead by scoring 15 unanswered points to start the second half. The Lady Bears extended their advantage to 45-29 -- their largest lead of the afternoon -- on a basket by yet another freshman, Jasmine Malone, with 13:24 to play.
ASU again had an answer, as the Red Wolves used a 13-1 spurt to pull to within four points of Missouri State with just under eight minutes remaining in the contest. The Lady Bears used four straight free throws and a Boshe field goal to add some breathing room and make it a 52-44 game.
Arkansas State made one final push, scoring six unanswered points, the last coming on a Jefferson free throw with 2:24 left in regulation to make it a 52-50 game.
But behind the veteran-like play of its freshman, Missouri State outscored ASU 9-2 over the final two minutes of the game to prevent a third straight 0-3 start for the Lady Bears.
Next up, Missouri State will take on Oral Roberts Wednesday (Nov. 26) evening at JQH Arena. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m.