PEORIA, Ill. -- Missouri State closed the first half on a 12-0 run and got 14 points fromChristiana Shorter in the second period Thursday to open Missouri Valley Conference play with a 79-70 victory over Bradley at Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Ill.
Shorter scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds, making 10 free throws and 7-of-14 shots from the field as the Lady Bears improved to 8-3 and 1-0 in league. Bradley fell to 9-4 and 0-1 after entering the contest with the MVC’s best overall record.
The Lady Bears controlled much of the first half minus a six-minute stretch in the middle portion, closing the first period on a 12-0 run over the final 2:43 to lead 42-26.
A three-point play by Whitney Edie followed by consecutive Jasmine Malone layups made for a 7-0 run over 31 seconds and an early 9-3 lead for the Lady Bears, and after Malone’s third steal and a Jaleshia Roberson three-pointer at the 16:53 mark Missouri State led 14-5.
Bradley cut the gap to six points on two occasions after that, but MSU answered with a Roberson three the first time and Shorter and Lacey Boshe hit consecutive layups the second for a 23-13 score and 12:06 on the clock.
Only a turnaround jumper from Boshe broke up two Bradley three-pointers and five free throws from the Braves as the home team cut the lead to 25-24 with an 11-2 run that ended at the 5:53 mark.
Roberson stopped the run with two free throws and added a three-pointer on the next possession for a 30-24 advantage, and Bradley hit a layup with 3:35 left before going scoreless for the remainder of the period as Missouri State got four more points from Shorter, four from Casey Garrison and two each from Roberson and Hannah Wilkerson to close on a 12-0 run while going 15-for-33 from the field and holding Bradley to 23.5 percent shooting.
Bradley opened the second half on a 7-2 run and shaved 11 points off the lead by the 12:24 mark at 47-42 as MSU picked up its seventh team foul in less than six minutes of action. Shorter answered with a free throw and a layup for a 50-42 lead at 11:04, as she scored MSU’s first eight points of the period and added her ninth and 10th with another layup at 9:57 for a 54-44 advantage.
The Braves followed with a three-point play and Edie countered with a jumper in the lane before Roberson fed Boshe with a no-look pass for a layup and 58-47 lead with 8:30 left. TwoKarly Buer free throws and another from Shorter made it a 7-0 run and 14-point lead before Bradley cut it to single digits at 63-54 at 5:22 thanks to a pair of putbacks by Leah Kassing.
Garrison scored for the Lady Bears before Kassing hit another jumper and two free throws to close the MSU lead to 65-58 with 4:24 to play, but Roberson answered with four free throws to get the lead back in double figures at 69-58 with 3:33 on the clock, and Malone threw in a turnaround three-pointer as the shot clock went off on the next possession for a 72-60 advantage. Shorter hit another free throw and Garrison added two over the next minute for a 13-point lead that salted the game away.
Roberson finished with 19 points, going a career-best 10-for-10 from the foul line with a career-high eight rebounds. Garrison added 12 points as MSU made 31 free throws in 38 tries to make up for a 22-for-56 (39 percent) performance from the floor.
Missouri State held Bradley to .328 (22-67) shooting overall and .259 (7-27) from three-point range and outscored the Braves 18-0 in fast-break points.
Up next for the Lady Bears is a 2 p.m. Saturday contest at UNI (7-5, 0-1). The Panthers opened MVC play Thursday with a 67-40 home loss to Wichita State.