Bears Battle Back Within One, Trail Pacific 27-26 at the Half
SPRINGFIELD -- After trailing the entire first half, the Missouri State Bears have battled back within one point of Pacific at the intermission as the Bears trail the visiting Tigers 27-26 in the final round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.
In a rematch of the 2010 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament here last March, the visiting Tigers stormed out of the gates to take a 4-0 lead in the first 31 seconds before Kyle Weems put the Bears on the board with a three-pointer just under a minute into the game.
Behind 11 first-half points by Sam Willard and four three-pointers, Pacific (4-1) built an 14-6 lead midway through the half on a trey by Allen Huddleston who hit two long-range bombs in the first period.
The eight-point advantage held until the 4:10 mark when a tip-in by Will Creekmore and a three-pointer by Nathan Scheer got the Bears back within 19-16.
Willard answered with a three-pointer of his own 14 seconds later to silence the JQH Arena faithful and give UofP a six-point lead.
The final two minutes, however, belonged to the Bears (3-2) who got a pair of buckets from Jermaine Mallett, a put-back by Weems in heavy traffic and a pair of free throws from Adam Leonard to make it a 27-26 game at the break.
Creekmore has six points to lead the Bears, while Weems and Leonard have five apiece.
Missouri State shot 37 percent (10-for-27) in the first half and made 3-of-10 (.300) three-pointers and 3-of-4 (.750) free throws. MSU owns a 20-16 rebounding advantage but has seven turnovers.
Pacific is 10-for-28 (.357) from the field, 4-of-11 (.364) from beyond the arc, and 3-for-5 (.600) at the free throw line. The Tigers have just three turnovers and have but one steal in the opening minute, despite applying full-court pressure the entire first half.