MOLINE -- Missouri State nearly led from buzzer to buzzer in a 71-58 win over Northern Iowa to win the first Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball tournament at the iWireless Center Sunday.
The Lady Bears (24-9) had a seven-point lead at halftime (35-28) and used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to push their lead to 15. Missouri State put it in cruise control the rest of the way and advanced to its first NCAA tournament since 2006.
Missouri State was once again led by senior guard Tyonna Snow, who scored 17 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 28 minutes. She was named the tournament MVP.
"I think a lot of teams that are out there have five players playing all 40 minutes and we were able to keep going because we knew that our bench was able to come in and do their part," said Snow, noting Missouri State's 29 bench points. "With Liza (Fruendt) coming off the bench, there's not another Liza in the league that can come off the bench and spark a team the way she does."
People are also reading…
Fruendt scored 16 points off the bench, Kenzie Williams had 13 and Lexi Hughes added 11 for third-seeded Missouri State.
Northern Iowa (22-10) was led by Madison Weekly's 17 points. Sharnae Lamar added 16 for the top-seeded Panthers.
"Whenever we would get close, they would come down and hit a big shot and that really killed us," Weekly said. "You have to credit them for hitting those shots. That didn't allow us to get over that hump."
Missouri State became the first 3 seed to win the MVC tournament and advanced to its 14th NCAA tournament. The Lady Bears will find out their place in the 64-team bracket Monday during the NCAA tournament Selection Show on ESPN beginning at 6 p.m.
Fruendt, Lamar and Weekly joined Snow on the All-Tournament Team, while Drake's Sara Rhine was the final member named to the team.
SIU (20-12), which lost to Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the tournament Saturday, hopes to get a postseason opportunity Monday night after the NCAA field is announced.
The Women's NIT will announce its 64 participants on its website (www.wnit.com) shortly after the NCAA field is unveiled. The full bracket for the event will be unveiled on the website shortly before 11 p.m.
First-round games for the WNIT are scheduled to start Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at campus sites.
It is not clear if the Women's Basketball Invitational, a 16-team event that also begins play later this week, is an option for the SIU women. That bracket will be unveiled Monday night shortly after the NCAA field is announced, according to the WBI's website (www.womensbasketballinvitational.com). The Salukis declined an invitation from the WBI last season, but had an athletic department and university that was much more in flux than it is now.
Dr. Harold Bardo was the interim athletic director at the time, and SIU had no chancellor or interim chancellor when the Saluki women declined the invitation.
The SIU men's basketball team declined any postseason invitation last week, citing nagging injuries and budget concerns after the university announced it was on pace to lose over $20 million in the next fiscal year if Gov. Bruce Rauner's current plan went through the legislature.