Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri State Lady Bears took a 23 point advantage into the locker room and never looked back as they handed the Missouri Southern Lions Women's Basketball a 91-58 defeat in the I-44 Hoops Classic presented by Wendy's Saturday night at The Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Lions were led by junior forward Erin Rice with 12 points, while senior guard Larrita Gipson and junior guard Kelby Fritz both added 11 points. Rice was also the team leader in rebounds with seven on the night.
After taking two quick leads in the game on a three pointer by Fritz (3-0) and a layup by Gipson (5-3) the Lady Bears took over the first half scoring 14 unanswered points to give the Lady Bears a 17-5 lead with 12:34 remaining.
Southern came out of the locker room down by 23 points, 44-21, and managed to get down to 14 twice at 48-34 with 16:37 remaining and 53-39 with just over 15 minutes to play in the second stanza. During that run Rice scored six points with junior guard Tatianna Washington adding six of her own and a blocked shot.
Missouri State was led by Casey Garrison with 22 while Whitney Edie added 18 and Karly Buer added 10 for the Lady Bears.
MSU out rebounded the Lions 45-29 for the game and out shot Southern 51.5 percent (35-of-68) from the field to 38.6 percent (22-of-57). The Lions held tough the second half being outscored 47-37 in the second stanza going 14-of-33 from the field.
The Lions start their regular season on November 11 as they host the Lady Bison of Harding University in The Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Tip off is set for 7pm.