The 17th-ranked and top-seeded Missouri State Lady Bears opened Missouri Valley Conference Tournament play Friday with a 70-59 victory over eighth-seeded Southern Illinois at TaxSlayer Center.
The Lady Bears (21-2) won their 17th game in a row to advance to the Valley Tournament semifinals for the 22nd time, with MVC Player of the Year Brice Calip scoring 17 points to surpass 1,300 in her career, Abby Hipp tallying 11 and Elle Ruffridge adding 10.
The first quarter saw four ties and seven lead changes to a 17-17 deadlock, and Missouri State took the lead for good when Calip and Hipp combined for a 7-0 run to open the second period for a 24-17 lead with 8:21 on the clock.
The teams combined for 12 total points the rest of the period to a 28-25 Lady Bears advantage at halftime, and MSU’s lead remained from 1-7 until closing the third quarter on a 9-0 run to lead 50-40.
Missouri State shot 8-for-10 from the field in the third period and then 7-for-10 in the fourth, maintaining the margin at eight points or more in the final frame with Mya Bhinhar leading the way with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
MSU’s 75 percent second-half shooting raised the team figure to 48 percent for the game, including 4-for-10 from 3-point range. The Lady Bears won the rebounding battle 32-21, with Hipp’s six rebounds leading the way and nine players grabbing multiple boards.
Bhinhar added a team-high three assists without a turnover and Jasmine Franklin grabbed three steals. The defense made SIU (9-16) the Lady Bears’ 21st opponent in 23 games to score below its season average.
Missouri State will play its semifinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday against fifth-seeded Bradley.