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(MSU Athletics) - The Missouri State Lady Bears struggled shooting the ball from all areas of the floor and posted a season-low in points Saturday in a 62-54 loss at defending Missouri Valley Conference champion Northern Iowa at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls.
The Lady Bears (8-4, 1-1 MVC) mounted a furious rally in the second half, closing to one point after trailing by 14 with less than 10 minutes to play, but could not overcome 33.8 percent shooting from the field, 22.7 from three-point range and 35.7 from the foul line along with a 24-14 foul deficit.
UNI (8-5, 1-1) shot 42 percent and hit 10 more free throws than MSU while four players scored in double figures.
Missouri State opened the game 1-for-9 from the field with three turnovers that led to a 12-2 deficit 5:32 into the contest. The Panthers kept the lead between seven and 10 points for the next five minutes before Aly Stock and Jasmine Malone hit jumpers around a Hannah Wilkerson three-pointer to make it 17-14 Panthers with 9:40 remaining in the half.
UNI responded with a 9-0 run to open up its biggest lead at 26-14 before Malone stopped it with a trey and 5:52 on the clock, but Katelin Oney answered with a long ball of her own on the next possession to push UNI’s advantage back to 12 at 29-17. Regan Soldner and Casey Garrison scored two quick baskets to close the gap to 29-21 as MSU held the Panthers scoreless for three minutes before a free throw made it 30-21 with 2:33 left.
Karly Buer’s jumper closed the Panther lead to seven points, but UNI knocked in a pair of threes and ultimately went into halftime with a 36-25 lead as the Lady Bears shot 33 percent overall, 1-for-10 from the foul line and 2-for-11 from three-point land while being whistled for 13 fouls compared to eight for the Panthers in the first period. Meanwhile, UNI shot 48 percent and hit all six of its three-point attempts.
Nearly three minutes elapsed before either team scored in the second half and Rachel Madrigal hit a three-pointer with 16:41 left to give UNI its largest lead at 41-27. The Panthers kept the lead in double figures until Jaleshia Roberson drained a three-pointer with 7:37 to play for a 49-40 score.
UNI knocked down two free throws and Garrison hit back-to-back layups to pull MSU to 51-44 with 5:20 on the game clock. Another defensive stop led to Wilkerson’s running bank shot for a five-point deficit and two Garrison free throws did the same for a 53-48 score and 4:11 remaining.
Wilkerson then hit two free throws at 2:51 to get MSU within one possession at 55-52 and Garrison banked in a runner at 2:15 for a 55-54 score before UNI hit a layup and then a jumper following an ill-timed MSU turnover to go back up 59-54 with 1:22 left. The Lady Bears came up empty on their next three possessions and UNI hit three more free throws to close the game on a 7-0 run.
Garrison scored 18 points to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and four blocks to finish the game one point shy of 2,000 for her career. Wilkerson hit a career-high 12 points, Shorter pulled down nine rebounds and Soldner had seven boards, though UNI held a 44-38 lead in that category.
Missouri State did limit itself to 11 turnovers while forcing 18.
The Lady Bears play their first home MVC game against Creighton (6-6, 0-1) at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. CU opened league play Saturday with a 47-44 home loss to Drake.
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