SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Danille Gitzen’s final home game for the Lady Bears (18-9, 14-2) came up short of a win as Missouri State fell to No. 23 Drake, 70-61.
The win puts the Bulldogs (23-5, 15-1) in the drivers’ seat for the Valley regular season title with just one week left on the schedule.
The Lady Bears fell into significant trouble early, shooting just 29 percent in the opening half.
Drake would go to the lockers up 41-23 thanks to 16 points form Sara Rhine and 13 form Becca Hittner.
The second half would go much differently as Missouri State held both to a combined five points.
That shift was largely thanks to Brice Calip and Gitzen who provided a spark for the Lady Bears.
Calip would lead the team in scoring with 17-points along with five rebounds.
Gitzen put up 13 points and seven rebounds in her final time on the JQH court.
Together with the rest of the team, Missouri State would close the gap to just four points in the final minute.
The Bulldogs, however, refused to give up the lead entirely as they ended on a 5-0 run to claim the 70-61 victory.
Another major factor in the loss for Missouri State was the continued absence of freshman forward Dariuana Lewis.
Head Coach Kellie Harper said Lewis missed both the UNI and Drake games for “personal reasons.”
Lewis will be out indefinitely.
With or without her, Missouri State will look to rally from the loss and close out the year with two final road games.
First up, the Lady Bears travel to Evansville on Thursday before finishing the season at Indiana State.