The Missouri State Lady Bears have proven time and time again they are road warriors.
On Friday night, Missouri State started perhaps its biggest trip of the Missouri Valley Conference season.
And the No. 19 nationally-ranked Lady Bears stayed hot with a 66-55 victory on the road at Northern Iowa, snapping the Panthers perfect 8-0 record at home.
“It’s hard to play on the road when people assume they are going to win,” head coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton said in her postgame radio interview. “We came in with an us-against-the-world mentality. It wasn’t just us as we had a nice busload of fans.
“That helped us generate some energy. We had to be even more focused on the road. When you are on the road, you have to think, ‘We are down 10 to start.’ We had to go against the other teams' punches, the refs and the environment.”
The team has won five straight games and sits alone atop the Missouri Valley Conference. Next up for Missouri State is a rematch against second-place Drake on Sunday.
Missouri State needed a crazy comeback and sophomore Sydney Manning’s successful shot at the buzzer beat the Bulldogs 69-67 on Jan 10.
The Lady Bears got beat inside early by the Panthers. Missouri State struggled defending Northern Iowa’s cuts to the basket, as the latter led 12-11 before the first media timeout at 4:32.
However, it appeared the Lady Bears made some defensive adjustments that paid off late in the first quarter. They finished the frame on an 8-1 run to lead 17-13.
Missouri State then rattled off a 6-0 run for its largest lead at 25-18 early in the second quarter. Junior Brice Calip converted an unconventional three-point play with 0.6 seconds left to give the Lady Bears a 35-32 at the half.
The Lady Bears showed signs of pulling away early in the second half as they went on a 9-0 run to build a 44-35 advantage.
But back-to-back 3-pointers from Northern Iowa made it a 44-41 game with 3:10 left in the third period.
Missouri State added four points to its halftime for a 50-43 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Senior Shameka Ealy scored five points in a row for a 15-point lead before the Panthers answered to make it 61-48 with 4:36 left in the game.
Northern Iowa’s only threat the remainder of the game was a 6-0 run that brought the game within nine with 3:15 left. The Lady Bears hung on for the victory after the Panthers turned the ball over several times down the stretch.
Calip and senior Alexa Willard led all scorers with 13 points. Sophomore Jasmine Franklin posted her eighth double-double of the season by scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds on the night.
Missouri State improves 19-3 overall on the season and 9-1 in the Valley. They are 9-3 away from JQH Arena.
The Lady Bears will stay on the road for a 2 p.m. game at rival Drake on Sunday.
“Drake has been playing with a little more urgency,” Mox said. “It’s definitely going to be a great game. I’m confident we will go there and do what we are supposed to do. We have to play better defense than we did tonight for 40 minutes.”