by Rick Kindhart
Missouri State posted a season-high point total, knocked down 14 3-pointers and forced 18 turnovers to roll past visiting Drake, 97-62 here Wednesday in a statement win for the Bears.
It was MSU’s highest point production in a Missouri Valley Conference game since scoring 99 points on Jan. 19, 2010 against Indiana State.
Keandre Cook led five Missouri State players in double figures with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Lamont West added 15 points and a game-high 7 rebounds off the bench with Gaige Prim adding 15 points in just 10 minutes of action.
The Bears (12-14, 6-7 MVC), converted 14-of-25 (.560) from beyond the 3-point arc for their best distance shooting performance of the season.
Drake (16-10, 6-7) was led by 14 points from reserve Noah Thomas, while D.J. Wilkins tallied 13 for the visitors.
Missouri State took just over five minutes to gain a double-figure lead, dropping in four triples by four different players before the first media timeout, and then going ahead 19-9 on Cook’s first trey of the evening with 14:26 left in the first half.
Drake clawed its way back within 24-22 just over five minutes later, led by five points from Garrett Sturtz as part of a 13-5 run by the Bulldogs. However, the Bears responded with an exclamation point, reeling off 22 of the game’s next 26 points over the next six minutes to lead 46-26 with three minutes left in the half. West dropped in four 3-pointers in that pivotal stretch.
MSU led 52-30 at the intermission before Prim scored the Bears’ first seven points of the second half. Isiaih Mosley’s 3-pointer with 14 minutes left in the game made it a 66-44 contest before Drake’s last push of the night followed over the next two-and-a-half minutes. The Bulldogs went to the line nine times in that span, but just made five of those shots to close within 66-49.
Prim re-entered the game from there and went right to work, reeling off 8 more points in the span of less than three minutes and coupled with a trey from Ja’Monta Black, gave the Bears a 75-49 lead with 9:09 to play.
Missouri State would lead by as many as 35 down the stretch for their largest margin of victory in a conference game since a 70-35 decision over visiting Loyola on Jan. 23, 2019.
The Bears were 35-of-66 (.530) from the field, 13-of-18 (.722) at the line and held a 36-27 rebounding advantage with just 8 turnovers.
Josh Hall (14 points) and Mosley (12) also scored in double figures for the Bears who notched a season-high 51 points off the bench.
Drake was 21-of-51 (.412) from the field, 9-of-22 (.409) from bonus range and 11-of-17 (.547) at the line with 18 mishaps, including 9 created with Missouri State steals.
After upcoming road games at Indiana State on Sunday and Bradley next Wednesday, the Bears return to JQH Arena on Saturday, Feb. 22 to battle Loyola at 2:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised contest as part of MSU Athletics Hall of Fame weekend.