CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Missouri State grabbed a season-high 12 steals and forced 20 turnovers Friday evening at UNI, using a solid all-around defensive performance to top the Panthers by a 57-52 final at the McLeod Center.
The Lady Bears (12-9, 8-2 Missouri Valley Conference) moved back into second place by themselves in the league standings, setting up a big 2 p.m. Sunday match-up at first-place Drake.
Missouri State fell behind by nine points in the first period thanks a six-minute scoring drought, and Danielle Gitzen's buzzer-beater from beyond half court gave the Lady Bears a much-needed lift entering the second quarter.
The Lady Bears scored the first 11 points of the second frame for a 14-0 run, with Liza Fruednt's 3-pointer giving MSU its first lead, and Aubrey Buckley converting a 3-point play with 6:44 left for a 22-17 advantage, all done without UNI (10-11, 6-4) even attempting a field goal thanks to four turnovers.
Emily Gartner scored Missouri State's final points of the half, giving the Lady Bears a 27-19 lead with 4:29 left, but UNI countered with a 10-0 run and held MSU off the board into the third period before Gitzen scored with 8:55 left for a 29-29 tie.
Missouri State regained the upper hand at 37-34 with a 6-0 run capped by a Gartner score with 4:49 left in the third, but UNI countered with its own 6-0 spurt before Fruendt's trey made it 40-all with 1:57 left.
The Panthers scored next and remained on top until Gitzen hit a baseline jumper during an 8-0 run that ended with a Fruendt layup for 50-46 with 5:54 on the clock.
After UNI scored with 4:55 to play for a 50-49 deficit, neither team hit a field goal until the final seconds, with Fruendt, Gitzen and Buckley combining to make seven free throws to help seal the game, while the defense continually forced UNI into difficult situations at the end of the shot clock.
Fruendt's free throw with 10.7 seconds left made her the 11th player in school history with 1,500 career points, as the senior finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Gitzen scored a game-high 14 on 5-of-7 shooting to go with three assists and three steals, and Gartner posted a career-high 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Both teams made 21 field goals, with MSU taking five more shots, while the Lady Bears owned a 33-32 rebounding edge, and ended with an 11-4 free throw margin thanks to the final few minutes.
Courtesy of: Missouri State Athletics Communications