The University of Evansville women's basketball team gave all 3,246 school children in attendance something to cheer about Friday morning at the Ford Center, as the Purple Aces toppled visiting Missouri State, 77-53, for their fourth-straight win. The victory snapped UE's eight-game losing streak to the Lady Bears that dated back to 2008.
Sophomore Khristian Hart had a career day, scoring 28 points on an 11-for-18 shooting effort, dishing out a game-high five assists and tallying a game-high four steals to lead Evansville (7-10, 5-1 MVC). Senior Samantha Heck also finished in double figures with 14 points, going 4-for-8 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 at the foul line. Fellow senior Taylor Ware finished with 10 points, rounding out the list of double-digit scorers for the Aces.
UE jumped out to an early 13-2 lead over the Lady Bears (9-9, 1-5 MVC) and never looked back, as MSU got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
A layup by Missouri State's Karly Buer cut Evansville's lead to 16-9 with 11:16 to play in the first half, but the Aces quickly responded as redshirt senior Chelsea Falkenstein knocked down a three-pointer and sophomore Mallory Ladd scored from close range to put UE back in front by double digits, 21-9, at the 9:28 mark.
The Aces slowly began to pull away and took their largest lead of the opening period at 40-23 on a free throw by Hart with 2:10 to play in the first and would lead 44-29 at the break.
Evansville shot an impressive 65.4 percent from the field (17-for-26) in the first half, scoring 20 of its 44 first-half points in the paint. In addition, the Aces' defense limited Missouri State to a 33.3 percent first-half shooting percentage (10-for-30).
UE continued its strong offensive attack in the second half, and opened up a 53-34 lead, when Hart buried trey with 15:44 remaining in the game.
The Aces put the game out of reach by going on a 14-5 run midway through half, as Hart capped the scoring spurt with a driving layup at the 5:57 and put UE in front 69-43.
Evansville allowed Missouri State to score just 10 points for the remaining of the contest, marking the third-straight game that the Aces have held an opponent under 60 points.
Whitney Edie and Kenzie Williams led MSU offensively, as Edie tallied a team-high 13 points and Williams added 10.
The Lady Bears outrebounded UE, 35-32, and grabbed 21 offensive boards, but were only able to score eight second-chance points, while the Aces committed just 13 turnovers and scored 20 minutes off of 15 Missouri State miscues.
Evansville will return to action Sunday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m., when it hosts Missouri Valley Conference leader Wichita State at the Ford Center. The Shockers are currently unbeaten in conference play entering their game with Southern Illinois later tonight.
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