SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The University of Northern Iowa women's basketball team was able to hang on for a 65-62 win at Missouri State in its Missouri Valley Conference opener Friday night at JQH Arena. Nicole Clausen led the Panthers with 19 points, and K.K. Armstrong finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Casey Garrison finished with 18 points for MSU (4-8, 0-1), and Lacey Boshe added 14 points and nine rebounds. Neither team led by more than two through the first 13 minutes, and the teams were in five ties and traded six leads in that span. The Panthers (3-8, 1-0) used a balanced offensive attack early in the game, using six different players to score their first 15 points. Casey Garrison gave MSU a 21-18 lead with a pair of free throws with 6:21 left in the first half. Nicole Clausen pulled UNI back within one with a long jumper from the baseline. Kim Wypiszynski connected on a layup as she was fouled, and the free throw put UNI in front, 23-21 with 3:45 on the clock. Maggie Dwyer and Wypiszynski traded baskets, and a basket from Lizzie Boeck extended UNI's lead to 27-23. Katelin Oney drove into the lane and scored to complete an 11-2 UNI run that put the Panthers in front, 29-23 with 1:10 left in the period. Roxy Stiles knocked down a baseline jumper to cut the Panther lead to four, but Boeck hit a three with 25 seconds left to send the Panthers into the break with a 32-25 lead. Missouri State scored the first four points out of the break to cut UNI's lead to 32-29. K.K. Armstrong ended the Lady Bear run with a three, and Clausen connected on four free throws to stretch the Panther advantage to 39-29. Stiles made one of two free-throw attempts, but Armstrong converted layups on back-to-back possessions and Boeck hit a jumper from the block to give the Panthers points on three straight trips and a 45-32 lead with 15 minutes to play. MSU responded with an 8-0 run to trim the UNI lead to 45-40, but Wypiszynski scored from the block to end the Lady Bear run and put the Panthers back in front by seven with 12:27 remaining. Clausen knocked down a deep three to put the Panthers back up by double-digits, but Garrison answered with a three to cut the UNI lead to 50-43 at 11:30. The Panthers answered with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to stretch their lead to 59-45. MSU responded with a 9-1 run that trimmed the Panther advantage to 60-54 with 4:38 remaining. A free throw from Rachel Madrigal made it a three-possession game at 61-54 with 4:20 remaining. Lacey Boshe connected on a pair of free throws, and then she scored from the block on the next Lady Bear possession to pull MSU within three, 61-58 with 2:24 on the clock. Boshe capped a 6-0 MSU run with a basket at 1:03 that made the score 61-60 in favor of UNI. Armstrong gave the Panthers their first field goal in more than eight minutes when she drove into the lane and connected on a layup with 40 seconds remaining to put the Panthers in front 63-60. Armstrong came up with a jump ball on the defensive end, and the possession arrow favored UNI with 18.9 seconds on the clock. MSU sent Clausen to the free-throw line, and the junior made both attempts to stretch UNI's lead to 65-60. Garrison scored as she was fouled with one second left, but she missed the free throw to make the final score 65-62. The Panthers shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56) from the floor, including 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) from three-point range. The Panthers made 12-of-16 (75 percent) free-throw attempts. Missouri State shot 40.7 percent (24-of-59), including 1-of-9 (11 percent) from behind the arc. The Lady Bears were 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from the free-throw line. The Panthers return to action on Sunday when they play at Wichita State at 2:05 p.m.
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