The Missouri State Lady Bears get a career high 16 points from junior Abby Hipp and beat the Loyola Ramblers 72-61 Saturday afternoon at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The win caps a perfect 17-0 record at home for the Lady Bears, who improve to 26-4 overall and finish Missouri Valley Conference play as the regular season champions, going 16-2.
The Lady Bears jumped out to a ten point lead in the first quarter and held a 33-26 advantage at halftime.
But the Ramblers (15-14, 6-12), who got 22 points from senior Tiara Wallace and another 20 from sophomore Allison Day, not only kept the game close, but took their first lead, 40-38, when Anna Brown hit a three pointer with 4:13 left in the third period.
The lead changed hands four times in the second half, with one tie.
MSU took the lead for good when Brice Calip hit a jumper with 7:23 left in regulation.
Day hit a shot with 43 seconds left in regulation to make it a two possession game, 67-61, but the Lady Bears connected on their last five free throw attempts to seal the win.
Seniors Alexa Willard and Shameka Ealy got a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,292 when they were taken out of the game in the closings seconds.
Hipp’s 16 points led the way for Missouri State and she also pulled down eight rebounds.
Jasmine Franklin added 13 points and also grabbed eight boards as the Lady Bears out-rebounded the Ramblers 36-28.
Calip also hit double digits in scoring with ten.
The Lady Bears dominated from the free throw line, hitting 20 of 27 attempts (74%), while Loyola only had seven attempts, making six.
MSU scored 17 points off 13 Loyola turnovers, and the Lady Bears, who had eight turnovers in the contest, committed only one in the second half.
Missouri State Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, who has won more games than any first year coach in Valley history, talked about winning on Senior Day and going undefeated at home:
The Lady Bears head to Moline, Illinois for the 2020 Hoops in the Heartland Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Tournament, and they could face in back to back games.
The Ramblers play Indiana State Thursday afternoon at TaxSlayer Center, with the winner taking on Missouri State at 12:02 p.m. on Friday.
The last Missouri State team to go unbeaten at home was the 2003-04 squad, who went 17-0 at Hammons Student Center.
The 26 regular season wins for the Lady Bears set a school record.
MSU improves to 14-3 all time against Loyola, and has won the last 14 games in the series. The Ramblers have never won in Springfield.
Missouri State is now 50-7 overall since December 20th, 2018, ranking fourth nationally in total wins during that stretch.
Willard has started all 129 games of her career at Missouri State, breaking Casey Garrison’s consecutive starts record of 128 from 2008-12.