It was not pretty, but the Missouri State Lady Bears closed the non-conference season with their third consecutive win in a 48-44 battle against Little Rock.
Held scoreless for the first several minutes, MSU blanked the visiting Trojans for the next seven minutes, setting the tone for a defensive struggle. The Lady Bears built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but Little Rock rallied to cut the deficit to just one point late in the fourth.
At the line with a two-point lead, MSU freshman Jasmine Franklin made both free throws with 10 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
Missouri State (4-7) heads into the Missouri Valley season on a win streak, and Kellie Harper’s young team is a much more confident group than the one that headed to Kansas City at 1-7.
“These three wins are huge, very critical for us,” Harper said. “For one, to show them that the hard work is paying off. We’re still learning, but it’s so much nicer when you can learn after a win. We’re hoping it’s really put us in position to feel good about going into league play.”
Sophomore Abby Hipp made her first career start Sunday, in place of Shameka Ealy, who tore her ACL in the win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Brice Calip led the Lady Bears with 10 points.
Valley play tips off Friday at JQH Arena against Indiana State.