Missouri State picked up its eighth win in the last nine outings Friday evening, strengthening its hold on a top-three spot in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 73-59 victory against Southern Illinois at JQH Arena.
Junior Liza Fruendt scored a season-high 24 points, reaching double figures in the first seven minutes of the game and closing strong with nine fourth-quarter points to help MSU improve to 12-10 overall and 8-3 in MVC games. SIU fell to 11-12 and 5-7 in league contests.
Missouri State held a 16-15 lead after the first quarter and limited the Salukis to seven points in the second period on the way to a 32-22 halftime advantage.
The Salukis cut the gap to seven points early in the third period before Lexi Hughes started and ended a 10-0 run with 3-pointers for a 46-29 advantage with 5:28 on the clock. Alexa Willard, Shameka Ealy and Lee Ann Polowy added triples in the quarter for a 5-for-5 shooting period for MSU from long range, with Polowy’s trey growing the lead to 55-37 with 2:13 on the clock.
SIU twice pulled within single digits in the fourth quarter, and Fruendt answered each time, first with a trey for a 62-50 advantage before scoring six consecutive MSU points after the visitors closed to 62-54. Fruendt’s final bucket sparked a 7-0 run that ended with Hughes scoring to make it 73-56 with less than a minute remaining.
Missouri State shot 28-for-60 (.467) in the game, with Fruendt shooting 9-for-17 in her eighth career 20-point game and Hughes (14) and Willard (11) finishing in double figures. The Lady Bears buried eight 3-pointers on 19 attempts, while holding the league’s top 3-point percentage team to 6-for-23 (.261) from beyond the arc.
The Lady Bears turned 17 SIU turnovers into 22 points, with four players nabbing multiple steals. MSU committed only 10 turnovers of its own, and Audrey Holt grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.