Photo courtesy of Missouri State Athletics Twitter account

VALPARAISO, Ind. – Thanks to season highs of 28 free throws and 14 steals, the No. 19/21 Missouri State Lady Bears topped Valparaiso by an 81-68 final Sunday afternoon for their 13th consecutive Missouri Valley Conference road victory.

The Lady Bears (12-2, 2-0 MVC) took the lead for good on Mya Bhinhar’s basket in the final seconds of the first period, sparking a 26-7 run to a 41-23 lead at the break after the defense held Valpo (8-5, 0-2) to three field goals and forced seven turnovers in the second quarter.

After the Crusaders hit a pair of 3-pointers out of the halftime break, the MSU defense held Valpo without a field goal for nearly five minutes to build a 53-31 lead with 4:59 on the clock on two of Alexa Willard’s game-high 24 points.

Valpo answered with four treys in the final 3:49 of the period to close to 55-47, and the Lady Bears recovered to a 59-47 lead after 30 minutes. The Crusaders hit another of their 14 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, and the most of the final nine minutes was spent at the free throw line for Missouri State.

Bhinhar’s two foul shots with 8:21 left made it a double-digit lead for good at 61-50, and the Lady Bears shot 13-of-17 at the line in the final period and 28-for-36 in the game. Brice Calip was 11-for-14 at the charity stripe, finishing with 18 points, six assists and four steals, while Willard was perfect in seven tries.

MSU owned a 35-23 advantage on the boards, led by nine from Jasmine Franklin, and Bhinhar matched a career high with four steals.

The Lady Bears shot 45 percent overall and 5-for-14 from 3-point range. Franklin added 10 points and Sydney Wilson scored seven with a pair of treys.

The Lady Bears are back at home Jan. 10 and 12, hosting Drake at 7 p.m. Friday and UNI and 2 p.m. Sunday.

(Game recap courtesy of Missouri State Athletics Communications)