-- Missouri State's offense went cold in the final 12 minutes of Saturday's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal match-up with third-seeded UNI, resulting in a 70-58 loss to the Panthers inside the TaxSlayer Center.
Missouri State (20-11) trailed for much of the first half before Danielle Gitzen
scored with 8:17 left in the third quarter to put MSU on top 35-34, and the Lady Bears extended their lead to five points on Brice Calip
's driving layup at the 5:42 mark before Gitzen took a UNI pass the other way for a layup and 45-39 lead with 2:01 on the clock.
The Panthers answered with back-to-back Ellie Howell 3-pointers in the next 33 seconds for the tie, scoring 10 points in the last two minutes of the period to lead 49-48 entering the fourth.
scored for a 50-49 lead early in the final quarter, but the Panthers (19-12) countered with a 9-0 run to lead 58-50 with 6:16 left, and MSU finished 5-for-19 in the final period and 0-for-7 from long range in a frustrating quarter. The Lady Bears got as close as 58-52 on Calip's bucket with 6:02 left, but the Panthers, despite not making a field in the game's final seven minutes, pulled away by scoring their last 16 points at the foul line.
The Lady Bears trailed 21-14 early in the second quarter, and briefly led 24-23 on Abby Hipp
's basket at the 3:41 mark before UNI scored the next five points on the way to a 32-31 halftime lead after Liza Fruendt
bombed in a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer for the second consecutive game.
Gitzen finished with a season-high 18 points and nine rebounds, making a career-best eight field goals in 12 tries. Fruendt scored 11 to pass Lynn Strubberg and Kenzie Williams
for seventh in MSU's career scoring list with 1,647 points. The senior guard ended her MVC Tournament career with 128 points and 24 3-pointers in nine games. Buckley added 10 points and five boards.
Missouri State shot 39 percent overall and 2-for-20 from 3-point range. The Panthers shot 42 percent, made eight 3-pointers, and shot 18-for-23 at the line. The Lady Bears committed only nine turnovers, their 14th game this season with 10 or fewer. UNI owned a 40-34 rebounding edge.
MSU's postseason fate will be determined in the coming days.