SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri State scored 42 of the final 56 points of the first half en route to an 82-50 victory over Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams Friday afternoon at JQH Arena. Jaleshia Roberson led all scorers with 15 points, including three key first-half three-pointers that helped the Lady Bears (10-3, 1-0 MVC) build an insurmountable advantage.
Christiana Shorter and Tia Mays combined forces to lock down the post for Missouri State, which outscored Southern Illinois by a 42-18 margin in the paint and outrebounded the Salukis, 55-42. Shorter and Jasmine Malone posted matching final lines of 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals, the latter two figures both marking game highs. Mays, meanwhile, totaled eight points, two blocked shots and five boards, including four of MSU’s 23 offensive boards that resulted in a 24-6 advantage in second-chance points for the Lady Bears.
The 32-point win represented the Lady Bears’ largest margin of victory over the course of Nyla Milleson’s 106-game tenure as head coach, as well as their biggest in MVC play since Jan. 30, 2005, when they blasted Wichita State by a 96-55 final count.
Missouri State took control of the contest early, holding SIU (2-10, 0-1 MVC) to just 8-of-29 (.276) shooting over the game’s first 20 minutes, while nine Lady Bears broke into the scoring column en route to a 45-21 advantage for the home team at the break. -MSU-
MSU jumped on top right off the bat by reeling off seven unanswered points following a three-pointer by SIU’s Teri Oliver that knotted the score at 3-3. Roberson’s first of three treys with 17:42 to play started the run, and after another SIU triple cut the margin down to four points, the Lady Bears answered with a 20-4 spurt to push their lead to 20 points with nine and-a-half minutes left on the first-half clock. Seven different MSU players scored during the run, highlighted by Mays’s three-point play that made it a 27-10 ball game with 10:12 to play.
Roberson would connect from long range two more times before the end of the period, handing MSU a 37-15 lead with 5:54 to play, then giving the Lady Bears their largest lead of the half at 45-17 with her third triple of the half at the 3:48 mark that followed a Karly Buer three just 20 seconds earlier.
It was more of the same coming out of the break, as the Lady Bears scored 18 of the first 30 points of the second stanza to push their lead to 30 with just under 13 minutes to play. The Salukis pulled to within 47-24 on a Sidney Goins jumper just 1:05 into the second half, but that would prove to be as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Shorter accounted for seven points, while Malone added six during the run, and MSU would go on to hike its advantage to as many as 35 in the closing minutes.
Making her first start of the 2010-11 season, Roberson would finish 4-of-8 from three-point range and log season highs for rebounds (5) and steals (2) as well.
The Lady Bear defense limited SIU to .328 (20-of-61) for the contest, and the Salukis hit on just 5-of-24 (.208) tries from beyond the arc. Oliver, who tied a JQH Arena record with seven threes last season, connected only three times in 14 attempts from long range and on just 4-of-18 tries from the field overall, but still finished with a team-high 14 points.
The Lady Bears will wrap up the opening weekend of the conference season Sunday (Jan. 2) when they welcome Evansville to JQH Arena for a 2:05 p.m. contest.