by Missouri State Athletics
Missouri State shot 64 percent in the second half and held off a late surge by visiting Indiana State to secure a 67-61 win here Saturday afternoon, giving the Bears their 10th Missouri Valley Conference win for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.
MSU (16-13, 10-6 MVC) moves within a half game of MVC leaders Loyola and Drake who are both 10-5 in the league and both play on the road Sunday.
The Bears got 16 points and 11 rebounds from Tulio Da Silva for his third double-double of the season, while Josh Webster added 14 points and six assists. Keandre Cook and Ryan Kreklow also pitched in 11 points apiece for the home side.
Indiana State (14-14, 6-10) was led by Tyreke Key with a game-high 19 points, including 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
The Bears extended a three-point halftime lead to as many as 16 midway through the second half as the Bears used a pivotal 7-0 push to move ahead 47-31 with 9:42 remaining. A three by Kreklow, followed by free throws from Webster and Jared Ridder capped the rally.
The Sycamores cut the deficit to nine five minutes later, with Key getting to the foul line multiple times and Cooper Neese draining the Sycamores’ only trey of the game in that span to give the visitors some momentum.
However, Missouri State came out of the under-four media timeout with Kreklow hitting a layup and his second trey of the game to extend the Bears’ advantage with 59-47 with just 2:32 remaining.
Indiana State kept fighting down to the wire, scoring 14 points in the final 2:21, including eight points by Key in that sequence, bringing the visitors back within 62-57 before order was restored. Ridder threw down his first dunk of the season with 34 seconds to play, and Webster and Cook finished it out from the free throw line.
The Bears made 14-of-22 shots in the final period and finished the game 22-of-46 (.478) overall. MSU also was selective from long range, but converted 4-of-6 (.667) in the last period and 6-of-15 (.400) for the game. The Bears were also 17-of-23 (.739) at the free throw line.
The Bears also forced 16 turnovers and snagged seven steals – three by Kreklow.
Indiana State was 21-of-46 (.457) overall, 1-of-8 (.125) from beyond the arc and 18-of-24 (.750) at the stripe while out-rebounding MSU 30-26.
In the first half, Missouri State used a 7-1 run midway through the half to gain an 18-10 advantage thanks to an alley-oop to Da Silva and a 3-pointer by Dixon as part of the stretch.
Indiana State responded with eight straight points over the next three-and-a-half minutes to tie the game, 18-18, with 3:03 left before the intermission. But another MSU three by Josh Webster and a dunk by Kabir Mohammed helped the home side go into the intermission leading 25-22.
MSU travels to Illinois State on Wednesday (6 p.m.) before wrapping up the regular season at home on Saturday, March 2 against Drake (3 p.m.). Tickets for the Drake game are available now at MissouriStateBears.com or by visiting the Old Missouri Bank Box Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678, during regular box office hours.
Children 12 and under will be admitted free to the MSU-Drake game, while all remaining available tickets are half price.