Peoria, IL — The Missouri State Lady Bears overcame a sluggish start to bury Bradley, 73-58, Saturday evening at Renaissance to improve to 3-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play and 12-4 overall. The Lady Bears turned in a dominant defensive effort and outscored the Braves 17-5 over a critical second-half stretch to earn their fifth road victory of the season.
The Lady Bears limited Bradley to .295 (18-of-61) shooting, marking the seventh time this season they have held an opponent under 30 percent from the floor.
Christiana Shorter paced a Missouri State attack that featured four double-digit scorers with a game-high 19 points. Casey Garrison came through with 13 points, including eight straight during the Lady Bears’ key run, as well as game highs of eight rebounds and five assists. Kendra Roberts also posted a big night, finishing with career highs of 10 points and six rebounds.
Despite a slow start on the offensive end and 12 turnovers, the Lady Bears took a 31-22 lead into halftime. The Lady Bear defense limited the Braves to just 9-of-36 (.250) shooting, and Jaleshia Roberson totaled all 12 of her points in the half to lead the MSU charge.
The Lady Bears got the job done over the first 20 minutes by hitting on 6-of-14 (.429) tries from behind the three-point arc, led by Roberson’s 4-of-8 effort. Roberts also turned in a strong opening period, connecting on 4-of-6 field goal attempts.
Both offenses struggled at the onset of the contest, however, combining to go just 4-of-29 over the first eight-and-a-half minutes. Missouri State finally gained an advantage midway through the opening half when Roberts scored on back-to-back possessions to make it a 10-5 game.
After BU tallied five of the next seven points, Roberson knocked down the second of her four first-half three-point field goals at the 10:06 mark to push the Lady Bear advantage back to five. MSU would heat things up from the perimeter late in the half, as Roberts and Roberson would combine to can three straight shots from beyond the arc over a two-and-a-half minute span to stretch the lead to 11 points with just over four minutes to play.
Behind a pair of Leah Kassing field goals, Bradley would post five unanswered points to slice the deficit to 28-22 over the ensuing three minutes. But Roberson would come up big again to answer the Braves’ challenge, hitting one more time from long distance with just 48 seconds left on the clock to send MSU into the break with a nine-point cushion.
The first five minutes of the second stanza saw both teams start slowly once again, but MSU got three early points from Tia Mays, and Jasmine Malone’s first two buckets of the night helped the Lady Bears claim their biggest lead of the night at 39-24 with just under 14 minutes left on the clock.
Bradley was able to pull to within 11 behind a Hannah Muegge trey and a Lauren Niemiera jumper, but the Lady Bear perimeter game would take over once again to seal the outcome of the contest. Following a pair of MacKenzie Westcott free throws that closed the BU gap to 43-32, Malone cranked it up from long range for her first triple of the game to initiate the Lady Bears’ key run. Garrison would follow with threes of her own on back-to-back possessions to start a personal 8-0 run for the MSU junior.
Aly Stock would convert a second-chance basket with 7:16 to play, and Shorter converted two straight tries from the field, as well as two free throws, to extend MSU’s lead to 62-39 -- its biggest of the evening.
Bradley (8-7, 1-3 MVC) would get no closer than the final 15-point margin, as the Lady Bears put the game out of reach by shooting .467 (14-of-30) from the field in the second half.
Up next, Missouri State returns home for a Tuesday (Jan. 11) match-up against three-time defending league champ Illinois State. The 7:05 p.m. game will be featured on Fox Sports Midwest.