by Rick Kindhart
Missouri State nearly erased an 18-point second-half deficit, but ultimately ran out of time in a 74-70 loss to Miami here Thursday in the first round of the Charleston Classic.
The Bears used a 12-0 run over a key four-minute stretch in the final period to shrink a 64-46 margin to 64-58 on a hook shot by Gaige Prim with 6:46 to play.
After ending its drought on a layup from Kameron McGusty moments later, Miami (4-1) got a traditional 3-point play from D.J. Vasiljevic with just over five minutes remaining to push its lead back to nine. However, the Bears answered with a pair of free throws from Lamont West and two more buckets from Prim to make it a 71-66 contest with a minute left.
After Vasiljevic missed a three on the other end, MSU got the ball ahead to West who was fouled and made both free throws to make it a 71-68 contest with 23 ticks showing. West’s first free throw in the sequence also pushed the West Virginia transfer over 1,000 points for his career.
The Hurricanes got one-of-two at the stripe on their next trip to make it a 72-68 game. Shooting to get it back to a one-possession game, Prim got a close look at it on MSU’s ensuing possession but couldn’t get it to fall.
In the final nine seconds, Miami missed another free throw, which Tyrik Dixon turned into two points for the Bears with a shot off the glass. Dixon’s bucket made it 72-70 with 1.8 seconds to go. The Bears failed to steal the in-bound pass and had to foul Vasiljevic who sealed the Miami win by making both foul shots.
Prim was 8-for-15 from the field and scored 18 points off the bench to lead four Bears in double figures. Tulio Da Silva posted 12 points and matched his career high with 17 rebounds, while West scored 13, and Keandre Cook added 12 for MSU (2-3).
Da Silva’s 17 boards were the most by a Miami opponent since Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal had 18 on Feb. 10, 2010.
Miami (4-1) was led by Vasiljevic with a game-high 25 points, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 9-of-13 overall, while McGusty added 19.
Missouri State committed 16 turnovers, but dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Hurricanes by a 45-25 margin. In fact, the Bears had more offensive rebounds (20) than Miami had on the defensive end (18), leading to 24 second-chance points for Dana Ford’s squad.
MSU finished 28-of-65 (.431) from the field, 4-of-15 (.267) from long range and 10-of-13 (.769) at the stripe.
Miami turned the ball over just nine times and finished 25-of-57 (.439) from the field, 9-of-22 (.409) from downtown and 15-of-17 (.882) at the stripe.
A physical first half saw the Bears roar back from an early 6-0 deficit to take a 13-11 lead midway through the opening period. A bucket from freshman Isiaih Mosley gave Missouri State its first advantage of the morning before a jumper by Dixon countered a Miami tip-in to make it a 15-13 contest.
After a pair of free throws from Cook with 8:53 left in the first half gave the Bears a 17-16 advantage, MSU scores just two field goals over the next six minutes. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes found a sweet spot from long range, dropping in four triples in that span, plus a three-shot foul from McGusty to push ahead to their biggest lead of the half, 32-21.
The Bears ended the half with nine points over the last three minutes, including a trey from freshman Ford Cooper Jr that made it a 38-30 game at the intermission.
Missouri State continues play in the Charleston Classic Friday at approximately 1:30 p.m. (Central) when they play St. Joseph’s in the consolation bracket.