VERMILLION, S.D. – For the 14th time in 15 tries, the 22nd-ranked Missouri State Lady Bears were victorious on the road, this time grabbing a 74-66 victory Monday at a South Dakota club that sits just outside both major top 25 polls and atop College Insider’s mid-major rankings.
Alexa Willard shot a career-best 5-for-6 from beyond the arc on the way to a game-high 21 points, Jasmine Franklin tallied her ninth career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Brice Calip added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists, as the Lady Bears (6-1) made 20 free throws in the second half to hold off the previously unbeaten Coyotes (5-1) and end USD’s 15-game home win streak.
Two early 3-pointers from Willard and another from Mya Bhinhar helped the Lady Bears build an 11-6 lead less than four minutes after the tip, and after USD tied the score at 11, the MSU defense held the Coyotes to two field goals over the next 10 minutes of game time.
In the interim, Calip beat the first quarter buzzer with a trey for 22-13, and Willard’s jumper built the lead to 26-15 with 8:18 until half. Sydney Manning’s deep 3-pointer with 4:49 on the clock made it 29-18, but Monica Arens’ fourth trey of the half sparked a strong closing run for the Coyotes, who took advantage of a 3-for-14 shooting quarter from the Lady Bears to cut the halftime gap to 31-27.
The Lady Bears lived at the foul line in the third period, going 12-for-16 at the stripe to push the lead to 53-40 after USD closed to the margin to 31-29 out of the break, and it was 58-43 after Willard buried a trey and Emily Gartner followed with a basket to open the fourth quarter.
The Coyotes ripped off an 8-0 run in less than two minutes for 58-51 and the teams traded buckets on the next five possessions for a 64-55 MSU lead on Franklin’s putback with 3:23 left. From there, the Lady Bears led by at least six points the rest of the way, mixing in Sydney Wilson’s press-breaking layup with eight free throws in the final 1:52 to seal the victory.
Missouri State shot 45 percent in the contest, extending its streak to seven straight games above 40 percent, and 8-for-16 from beyond the arc. The Lady Bears led 38-31 on the glass and had 14 assists against 13 turnovers.
The MSU defense held South Dakota to 32.6 percent shooting on 2-pointers and 35 percent overall.
After a daunting November road schedule, the Lady Bears will play at JQH Arena four times in December, beginning with home games against Kansas City on Dec. 1 and Wichita State on Dec. 4.