St. CHARLES, Mo.
- Missouri State came up short in its bid for a 10th Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship Sunday afternoon in an 85-71 loss to top-seeded Wichita State at The Family Arena.
The Lady Bears (18-14) scored 21 points above the average allowed by WSU's No. 2 national scoring defense, but Wichita State (29-4) shot 54.1 percent from the field in ending MSU's 10-game winning streak.
Missouri State never led, but remained within single digits for the first 27 minutes of the contest. The Shockers made five of their first six shots for an early 10-4 lead, and the Lady Bears battled back within a point on two occasions, including Liza Fruendt's
second trey of the game for an 18-17 deficit with 11:13 remaining.
After WSU extended its lead to 30-21, Kenzie Williams
hit back-to-back baskets to cap a 6-0 run and pull the Lady Bears within a possession with 4:38 remaining in the half, and Tyonna Snow
scored just before the horn for a 38-35 deficit at half.
The Shockers opened the second half on a 6-0 run to match their largest lead, and used a 7-0 spurt to lead 56-43 with 12:42 remaining. The MVC's regular season champions maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game.
Snow, who earned all-tournament honors for the Lady Bears, finished with a team-high 19 points and became the 25th member of MSU's 1,000-point club early in the second half. She also moved into a tie for sixth in school history with 241 career steals.
Williams added 17 points and matched a season high with seven assists. The junior also earned the MVC's Elite 18 Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA in the conference championship game.
Missouri State shot 44.6 percent from the field, and lost the rebounding battle, 33-25. MSU had 14 assists against 16 turnovers. The Lady Bears matched a tournament record by making all 14 of their free throw attempts.
With their 18-14 record, the Lady Bears are eligible for postseason play. The fields for all three women's basketball postseason tournaments will be announced Monday night.