ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP)- Alex Harden and Michaela Dapprich scored 19 points each to lead Wichita State to a 69-65 win over Illinois State in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Sunday.
The top-seeded Shockers (24-9) won the tournament for the first time and will be making their first NCAA tournament appearance.
Chynna Turner added 12 points and Jessica Diamond scored 11 for Wichita State, which lost in its only previous MVC title appearance in 1997.
Jamie Russell led third-seeded Illinois State (23-10) with a game-high 27 points.
Janae Smith added 19 points and Brianna Puni had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Redbirds.
Wichita State used a 10-2 run early in the second half to go in front for good at 52-49.
Harden, who was selected as tournament MVP, hit a short jumper with 23 seconds left to give the Shockers a 68-65 lead. Diamond put the game away with a free throw five seconds later. Wichita State has won five in a row and seven of its last eight.
Illinois State, which trailed 40-39 at halftime, made just one basket in the final 6:13.
Dapprich triggered the go-ahead run with a 3-pointer to give the Shockers a 51-49 lead with 13:54 remaining. Turner followed with a free throw before Harden and Turner added back-to-back baskets to push the advantage to 56-51.
Hardin, the MVC’s defensive player of the year, scored a career-high 28 points in a 75-71 overtime win over Northern Iowa in a semifinal game on Saturday. She hit 8 of 15 shots against Illinois State.
The Redbirds battled back from a seven-point deficit to climb to within 66-65 on a 3-point play by Smith with 1:10 left.
Wichita State jumped out to a 33-22 lead in the first half before Illinois State battled back behind Russell, who hit a jumper in the closing seconds of the half to bring the Redbirds to within one at the break.
Turner triggered the first-half run with a conventional three-point play. Michelle Price followed with a short jumper to put the Shockers up 33-22 with 6:29 left in the half.
Illinois State was appearing in its eighth championship game. The Redbirds last won the title in 2008.
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