The Missouri State Lady Bears used a 15-2 run to take control of their opening round game in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament against Rice en route to a 76-65 victory Thursday evening at JQH Arena. 

After Rice (18-14) battled back to cut the Missouri State lead down to two points in the closing minutes, the Lady Bears again cranked up their offense with a 13-4 game-ending spurt to lock up their 24th victory of the season. 

Casey Garrison led the way with a near-triple-double consisting of 18 points, eight rebounds and a season-high nine assists. With the win the Lady Bears (24-10) advance to a second-round home match-up Sunday (March 20) against Arkansas, which defeated Lamar by a 91-65 score Thursday in Fayetteville. 

Three Lady Bears joined Garrison in double figures, as MSU finished 29-of-63 (.460) from the floor to rebound from a .288 shooting day Sunday in their lost at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament finals. 

Missouri State and Arkansas play at 2:05 p.m., Sunday at JQH Arena.