SPRINGFIELD — The Missouri State Lady Bears ran out to a 19-point first-half lead over Arkansas-Little Rock Wednesday evening and survived a 16-0 second-half run by the Sun Belt Conference favorites by overcoming a six-point deficit in the final 5:09 for a 72-68 victory at JQH Arena.
The Lady Bears (1-1) led 36-17 with 4:52 remaining in the first half but scored just 15 points over the next 19-plus minutes to find themselves in a 57-51 hole with slightly more than five minutes to play.
After a Hillary Chvatal free throw with 12:47 left put MSU ahead 51-41, the Lady Bears went nearly eight minutes without scoring as the Trojans (1-1) ripped off a 16-0 run before two Kenzie Williams free throws made the score 57-53 UALR with 5:09 remaining.
Consecutive Lady Bear steals and layups pulled the home team to 59-58 with 4:04 left, and Bry Snow’s 3-point play made it 61-59 with 3:14 on the clock. The Trojans tied the score at 61-61 and Williams scored MSU’s next six points for a 67-65 lead with 1:05 left. UALR tied again at 67-all before Bry Snow got the lead back at 69-67 with a layup from a great Williams pass.
Each team went 1-for-2 at the foul line on its next possession, with Mikala McGhee’s free throw making it 70-68 with 10 seconds to play. McGhee then took a charge with 6.0 seconds left and Karly Buer drained two free throws to seal the win.
The Lady Bears used runs of 8-0, 11-0 and 12-1 to build a 36-17 lead by the time the first-half clock hit 4:52. Bry Snow hit five straight points before Williams buried a 3-pointer for a 12-8 lead and 14:46 to play, and Williams hit another trey and Chvatal scored four points in the second spurt, including a jumper in the lane for the 23-12 advantage with 11:12 left in the half.
The score was 24-16 MSU with 9:33 to go when the Snow sisters and Williams combined for the Lady Bears’ next 12 points and the Trojans managed just one free throw over the next five minutes. Tyonna Snow scored three points, Bry Snow had four and Williams knocked down her third trey of the half before hitting two free throws for the 36-17 lead.
Missouri State took most of that 19-point lead into halftime, going into the break up 41-27, and led 50-39 on Tyonna Snow’s acrobatic offensive rebound and putback with 15:25 remaining before UALR began its big run.
Williams (24) and Bry Snow (17) each tallied career highs in the scoring column, with Williams shooting 6-for-9 from the floor and 9-for-12 from the foul line. Snow added five boards, two blocks and two steals.
Preseason all-Sun Belt guards Taylor Ford and Taylor Gault combined for 38 points and nine assists for the Trojans.
Missouri State held a 39-27 rebounding edge and shot 42.6 percent for the game. UALR shot 45.5 percent overall and 53.6 percent in the second half.
Up next for the Lady Bears is a Nov. 17 visit to IUPUI for a 1 p.m. (Central) tip.