The Amaka Agugua-Hamilton era and the Lady Bears’ quest to return to the NCAA Tournament officially commenced on Tuesday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Missouri State played its fifth consecutive game against a Top 25 team in No. 23 Minnesota and passed the challenge with flying colors.
In Coach Mox’s debut, the Lady Bears knocked off the Golden Gophers 77-69 on the road to start the season in the win column.
“I’m just so proud of this group,” Mox said in her radio postgame interview on 101.3 KTXR. “Since day one, they just bought in. They have been coachable. They come to practice everyday like sponges and eager to learn. I’m just so happy for them right now.”
Missouri State jumped out to a 26-13 lead in the first quarter led by nine points from junior Brice Calip. Minnesota never got closer than three points as the Lady Bears never trailed in the game.
At the half, Missouri State went into the locker room with a 37-28 lead over the Golden Gophers.
Junior Emily Gartner’s first career 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 run for the Lady Bears to give them a 44-31 lead at 7:45 mark in the third quarter. Minnesota countered with a 7-0 run to make it 44-38 with six minutes left.
Freshman Jasmine Franklin scored eight of her 14 points in the third as Missouri State held a 56-49 going into the fourth quarter.
Despite a late-run by the Golden Gophers in the fourth, the Lady Bears held on for the win to overcome 22 turnovers.
Mox called Calip one of the best defensive players in the country during her interview. Calip finished with a career-high 21 points and recorded six assists on the offensive side.
“Brice is tough,” Mox said on the broadcast. “She’s tough on both sides of the ball. I saw a side of her that I haven’t seen consistently for a whole 40 minutes. Today, she put the team on her back.”
After struggling from the free-throw line in exhibition play, Missouri State finished a perfect 17-for-17 from the charity stripe. The team also out-rebounded Minnesota 41-21.
The Lady Bears play in the preseason women’s national invitational tournament on Friday, Nov. 8, welcoming Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to JQH Arena at 7 p.m. for their home opener.