Franklin, Missouri St. women defeat No. 24 Virginia Tech

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jasmine Franklin scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and went 9 of 10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to lead Missouri State to a 76-68 win over No. 24 Virginia Tech at the San Juan Shootout on Friday.

Missouri State (4-1) led 23-9 after one quarter, hitting three 3-pointers, going 7 of 14 overall and 6 for 6 from the line while the Hokies were 4 of 14 with one free throw.

The Hokies (5-1) never recovered as Missouri State was 15 of 16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Abigayle Jackson scored a career-high 18 points, Sydney Wilson 16 and sixth-year senior and Missouri Valley Conference MVP Brice Calip 10 in picking up her 101st career win. Franklin earned her fourth double-double of the season. The Bears finished 27 of 30 from the free throw line to 8 of 15 for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech scored nine-straight in the second quarter to get within five but Missouri State surged ahead 36-26 at the half. The lead was double figures throughout the third quarter and never closer than eight in the fourth. The Bears were unflinching from the line, offsetting Virginia Tech finally finding the range and going 10 of 18 from the field – which only brought the Hokies 42% shooting.

Elizabeth Kitley scored 21 points and Kayana Traylor 12 for Virginia Tech, which plays Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

Missouri State has beaten a Power 5 opponent in nine consecutive seasons and with wins over USC and Virginia Tech the Bears got their 15th win in that span. They play LSU on Saturday.

Memphis hires Katrina Merriweather as women’s hoops coach

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has hired Katrina Merriweather as the new women’s basketball coach after she led Wright State to that program’s first NCAA Tournament win.

Athletic director Laird Veatch announced the hiring Monday.

Merriweather led No. 13 seed Wright State to an upset of fourth-seeded Arkansas in the first round last week before a loss to Missouri State in the second round. She also led Wright State to the only three Horizon League championships in school history.

She was the Horizon League Coach of the Year three times in her five seasons at Wright State, which included all three of the Raiders’ NCAA Tournament berths. She was 113-47 (70.6%).

Wright State was one of only six programs in this year’s NCAA Tournament with an all-female coaching staff along with Stanford, UCF, Georgia Tech, High Point and Central Michigan. Merriweather is the 12th coach in program history at Memphis, replacing Melissa McFerrin who retired last month.

She was an assistant coach at Wright State from 2010-2016 and served as recruiting coordinator for her final four years before being promoted to head coach. She was an assistant at Purdue from 2003 to 2006 and an assistant at UIC for 2002-03.

Merriweather began her coaching career at her alma mater Cincinnati in 2001-02 after playing four seasons with the Bearcats.

Stanford romps into Elite Eight, 89-62 over Missouri State

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SAN ANTONIO — Missouri State had waited two years to get another crack at the Sweet 16 and Stanford, only to watch the Cardinal turn their rematch into a romp.

Hannah Jump scored 17 points off the bench and top seed Stanford strolled past the No. 5 Lady Bears 89-62 to earn a spot in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament for the 21st time.

Stanford led by 23 at halftime and by as much as 38 in the fourth quarter as the Cardinal kept up their postseason barrage of 3-pointers by making 15.

The Cardinal (28-2) have made at least 13 from long range in each of their three tournament games. Jump led the way Sunday with five.

“We try to ride the hot hand,” said Kiana Williams, Stanford’s career leader in 3-pointers who made four and scored 16 points. “It’s hard to guard us because you can’t just focus on one person.”

The tournament’s overall No. 1 seed advanced to Tuesday’s Alamo Region final against No. 2 Louisville, which beat No. 6 Oregon on Sunday night.

A win there would send Stanford to its 14th Final Four. Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer has won two national championships, but none since 1992.

“I still don’t think we’re playing our best basketball yet,” guard Anna Wilson said. “We’re playing really well. We’re clicking and in a lot of different ways than usual. But I think that each player has a lot more to give to the team. … I think that with the trajectory we’re going in, it will be good timing. We don’t want to peak too early.”

Elle Ruffridge scored 18 points to lead Missouri State (23-3), a team with a history of punching above its status as a mid-major from the Missouri Valley Conference. The Lady Bears have two Final Four appearances of their own, but the last came two decades ago behind record scorer Jackie Stiles.

This Lady Bears team had a veteran lineup eager to improve upon its nine-point loss to Stanford two years ago. And Missouri State was hungry to push for even bigger things after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 tournament and abruptly ended a 26-4 season.

But hope of an upset quickly disappeared when Missouri State missed nine of its first 10 shots and struggled to deal with Stanford’s height and length near the basket as the Cardinal frontcourt diverted shot after shot.

“Every game we’ve been down, we’ve always come back,” Missouri State coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said. “So, it was a little surprise that we just couldn’t get over the hump. … Obviously, it’s an emotional ending to a magical ride, you know?”

Jump closed the first quarter with consecutive 3-pointers. The Cardinal led by 14 late in the second before ending the half with a 9-2 run behind a steal and layup from Wilson, a 3-pointer by Williams and a wide-open shot by Jump in the final seconds for a 49-26 lead.

Stanford opened the third with two more 3-pointers by Cameron Brink and Williams as the lead stretched to 35 by the end of the quarter.

The only question left was whether Stanford’s Francesa Belibi might try to dunk on a fast break early in the fourth, something she did in the regular season against California and UCLA. She hesitated slightly and opted for an easy layup instead.

Belibi’s slams in December made her the first woman to dunk in a college game since former Baylor star Brittney Griner had a trio of dunks against Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

“I think she’s comfortable dunking off the dribble,” VanDerveer said. “But I thought it was a good decision by her, not dunking.”


Williams tweaked an ankle late in the second-round win over Oklahoma State, but appeared to show no lingering effects Sunday. She easily slashed around several defenders for an early layup. She was 6-of-12 shooting and had four assists in 30 minutes on the court in a game she could have rested longer.


Missouri State shot 23% over the first three quarters and 12 offensive rebounds resulted in only 10 second-chance points as Stanford pulled away.

Sweet 16 again for Missouri St. women, 64-39 over Wright St.

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SAN ANTONIO — Another sweet season for Elle Ruffridge and Missouri State.

Ruffridge had a career-high 20 points with five 3-pointers, Jasmine Franklin had a double-double and the fifth-seeded Lady Bears are going to their second consecutive Sweet 16 in the women’s NCAA Tournament after knocking off Wright State 64-39 in matchup of mid-major teams Wednesday.

“It feels amazing. I cannot tell you how much I love this team,” Ruffridge said. “We have been waiting since 2019 to punch our ticket back. I’m just speechless right now.”

Ruffridge and Franklin are among nine current Missouri State players who were also part of the Sweet 16 team two years ago, though they have a different coach. The Lady Bears (23-2) lost in 2019 to Stanford, the same team they will play in the Alamo Region semifinal Sunday.

“We’re going to enjoy this one. Making it to the Sweet 16 is not easy,” second-year Missouri State coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said. “There’s so many teams that would love to be in this position. We are not taking that for granted at all. So we’re going to enjoy this. We’re going to enjoy each other. That’s what we do, we enjoy the journey. Obviously, we’re going to be prepared.”

The Lady Bears pulled away in the second half when Ruffridge had 17 of her points. Franklin finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Angel Baker and Shamarre Hale each had 10 points for the 13th-seeded Raiders (19-8), who got outscored 40-20 after halftime and outrebounded 47-31 overall. They had gotten their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory in the opening round against Arkansas on Monday.

“Today was tough obviously. We didn’t make the shots that we thought that we would,” Wright State coach Katrina Merriweather said. “Credit Missouri State with their game plan, their defense. Never did I imagine that this group would get outrebounded the way that we did. So there’s a lot of things when you look at that stat sheet, it’s difficult to comprehend.”

Agugua-Hamilton succeeded Kellie Harper, who after coaching the Lady Bears’ 2019 Sweet 16 team was hired by Tennessee, her alma mater. Missouri State then went 26-4 in Agugua-Hamilton’s debut last season before the NCAA tourney was canceled because of the pandemic.

Missouri State went ahead on two tiebreaking free throws by Missouri Valley Conference player of the year Brice Calip with 2 minutes left in the second quarter before Mya Bhinhar swished a 3-pointer for a 24-19 halftime lead. Sydney Manning’s 3-pointer capped a 12-3 run to start the second half. That trio was also on the last Sweet 16 team.

After opening this tournament with a 21-point win over UC Davis, another mid-major, Missouri State now has to play the Cardinal, the No. 1 overall seed in this NCAA Tournament. Stanford beat the then-No. 11 seed Lady Bears 55-46 in the Sweet 16 two years ago.

Wright State got even at 19-all Wednesday when Emani Jefferson made a 3-pointer that hit the rim, popped straight up and then fell through the net with 3:44 left in the half. The Raiders didn’t get any more breaks after that.

“They had great execution, great patience. I think they controlled the tempo of the game,” Merriweather said. “They just played an amazing 40 minutes, even with the slow start that I feel like we both had. Containing them would mean we could not be a step slow like we were today.”


Baker had averaged 25.6 points in four postseason games for the Horizon League champions before Wednesday. Her 3-pointer with 29.1 seconds left put Wright State ahead of Arkansas. Baker was averaging 18.4 points on the season, but was 3-for-14 while mostly defended by Calip.

“Brice is just a lock-down defender. Brice did things that may not have shown up in a stat line, but she was huge for us. Big stops, limiting Angel under average,” Ruffridge said.


The Lady Bears hadn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2001, when they made it all the way to the Final Four. This is their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance since then.

No. 23 Missouri State women end MVC regular season unbeaten

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EVANSVILLE, Ill. – Brice Calip scored 14 points to lead five in double figures, and No. 23 Missouri State routed Evansville 85-44 on Saturday night to finish undefeated in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season.

The defending MVC regular-season champion Bears (20-2, 16-0 Missouri Valley) have won 16 straight games and completed their first unbeaten conference season in school history. It’s also their longest winning streak since an 18-game stretch during the 2003-04 season.

Abigayle Jackson had 12 points off the bench for Missouri State. Jasmine Franklin and Abby Hipp added 11 points each and Sydney Wilson had 10. The Bears outrebounded Evansville 49-29 and forced 18 turnovers.

Abby Feit scored 14 points for Evansville (6-16, 2-15), which shot 15 of 56 (27%) from the floor.

The Bears opened on a 14-0 run and led 19-6 at the end of the first quarter. Feit’s layup with 1:36 left were the first points for the Purple Aces.

No. 23 Missouri St. women win 15th straight, beat Evansville

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EVANSVILLE, Ill. – Jasmine Franklin and Sydney Wilson had 16 points apiece, and No. 23 Missouri State pulled away in the second quarter and cruised to an 87-54 victory over Evansville on Friday night.

The back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion Bears (19-2, 15-0 Missouri Valley) extended their winning streak to 15, their longest since an 18-game stretch during the 2003-04 season.

Elle Ruffridge added 14 points for Missouri State. Abby Hipp had six points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Wilson and Ruffridge each had four of the Bears’ 11 3-pointers.

Abby Feit scored 16 points for Evansville (6-15, 2-14).

Ruffridge made three 3s and Franklin added six points as the Bears outscored the Purple Aces 24-6 in the second quarter and built a 40-20 halftime advantage. They held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

The teams play again at Evansville on Saturday to conclude their regular seasons.