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MSU's Hannah Wilkerson Eyes The Bucket As Lady Bears Bench Looks On
The MSU Lady Bears got a layup from Whitney Edie with 18 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and went on to beat Oral Roberts 73-72 Thursday night at JQH Arena.
The seniors led the way, with Christiana Shorter scoring 21 points to lead the Lady Bears and Edie putting in 15 and pulling down 12 rebounds for a double-double. Shorter just missed the double-double with nine rebounds.
Kevi Luper had a JQH Arena record 40 points for the Golden Eagles and became only the fifth player to score 40 or more in a game against MSU in team history.
The game featured ten lead changes and was tied six times. It took quite a comeback by the Lady Bears to force the most important tie of the game, the one that sent the contest into overtime knotted 65-65.
Oral Roberts, who carried a 30-29 lead into halftime, came out hot to start the second half, scoring the first ten points on five straight layups, and going up 40-29 with 16:53 remaining.
The Lady Bears broke the string on a layup by Shorter, then Hannah Wilkerson hit her second three pointer of the night, pulling MSU closer, 40-34, with 15:12 to play.
The Golden Eagles got back to back three pointers from Taylor Cooper and Jaci Bigham that increased the margin to nine, 47-38, with 12:28 remaining.
Later, ORU went up by ten, 54-44, when Luper sank two free throws with 8:17 to play, but the Lady Bears went on a 10-0 run to knot the contest 54-54 with 5:50 left in regulation.
A 7-0 run by the visiting team seemed to put MSU in another big hole with under four minutes to play, but the Lady Bears weren't done yet.
Trailing 65-60 with 1:08 on the clock, redshirt freshman Kenzie Williams nailed a three pointer. Then Shorter got a block on the other end of the court, setting up the game tying layup by Edie.
Missouri State grabbed a quick two point lead in the overtime when Edie hit two free throws, then went up by two again moments later on a layup by Edie.
Shorter's layup with 3:01 left in the extra frame gave MSU a 71-69 lead, then Luper's fourth three pointer of the night put Oral Roberts back in front 72-71 with 2:46 to play.
The game winning shot actually came with 2:33 left in overtime when Williams hit a driving layup that put the Lady Bears up 73-72, and the home team came up with several defensive stops down the stretch to preserve the win.
Missouri State Head Coach Nyla Milleson says she'll take the win, although it wasn't a picture of perfection. "They don't put ugly in the win column," Milleson said. "But it was one ugly game. Somehow we found a way. As disappointed as I am in some of the numbers and some of the things that we did or didn't do, I'm very, very proud of our guts, our grit, our fight, our desire. Somehow this team found a way to win."
Some of the numbers that weren't that pretty are 12-22 from the free throw line for Missouri State, to go along with 25 turnovers.
Milleson says the three pointer by Williams late in regulation was a big play. "She's playing so extremely well right now. She's probably the guard right now that's giving us that stability and that confidence. And there's not a player that's playing perfect, but she plays with such a level of calmness to her."
Wilkerson says the message was simple late in the game. "Every huddle we got together and we just said one more stop, one more stop, and the game's over."
Shorter says while the win was ugly, her team knows what it's focus needs to be. "Work on taking care of the ball, work on our zone defense, and just come together as a team."
MSU is now 4-2 on the season, winning four of its last five games, while Oral Roberts drops to 2-3.
The Lady Bears will host Nothern Kentucky Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:05 at JQH Arena as part of a women's/men's basketball doubleheader.
Thursday's game was just the second overtime contest for the Lady Bears in four years of playing basketball at JQH Arena. The previous OT game was a 92-85 loss to Wichita State on January 23rd, 2010.
Kevi Luper's 40 points shattered the JQH Arena single game mark, which was previously held by Missouri State's Casey Garrison, who scored 33 points in a game twice.
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