Bears Drop OT Nail-Biter to No. 6 Wichita
Jan. 11, 2014
SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (12-4, 2-2 MVC) fought unbeaten Wichita State tooth and nail for 45 minutes before the visiting Shockers emerged with a 72-69 overtime win before the third-largest crowd ever at JQH Arena here Saturday night.
Fred VanVleet scored 7 of his 16 points in overtime to help WSU overcome a 19-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of regulation, while teammate Cleanthony Early recorded a game-high 22 points with 14 rebounds, and Ron Baker added 15.
MSU got its first double-double of the season from standout senior Jarmar Gulley who scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds for the Bears who led 54-35 with 11:48 to go. Austin Ruder went 5-for-8 from 3-point range to finish with 17 points, while Marcus Marshall added 15.
Wichita State (17-0, 4-0 MVC) came into the game ranked No. 6 in the AP poll and represented the highest-ranked team ever to play in Springfield. The house draw of 10,776 was the third-highest home attendance total ever for Bears.
Paul Lusk’s troops ended the first half on 37-12 run after the Shockers took a 12-5 lead at the 14:47 mark of the opening period on a dunk by Tekele Cotton. Wichita product Gavin Thurman led the Missouri State charge from there as he went on a personal 7-0 run to give the home club its first lead of the night five at the 10-minute mark.
The Bears would roll up 8 3-pointers in the first half and take a 42-24 lead into the intermission, but the battle-tested Shockers were game and started the second half on a 7-0 run to climb back within 42-31 less than three minutes into the second half.
Gulley accounted for 8 points over the next five minutes, and Ruder knocked down a key 3-pointer on the Bears’ ensuing run. Gulley’s traditional 3-point play at the 11:48 mark put the Bears on top by 19, their biggest lead of the night.
Wichita amped up its pressure defense and used a 16-2 run over the next three minutes to cut its deficit to 54-46 on a pair of charity shots by Early with 9:07 to play in regulation.
Again, the home team answered the bell with Marshall ending the Bears’ slump with a 20-footer to push the underdogs ahead 58-51 with just under 7 minutes remaining. Later it was Ruder who rose to the occasion. After a pair of Baker free throws made it 60-55 with 4:29 left, the MSU freshman dropped in his fifth trey of the night with the shot clock running down to give Missouri State a 63-55 lead at the 3:54 mark.
The Bears clung to a four-point lead with a minute left in regulation when a block-charge call turned things around for the Shockers with 47.7 ticks to go. VanVleet plowed through Nathan Scheer and converted the traditional 3-point play when Scheer was called for the block. That play proved pivotal as it made it a 64-63 contest at the time. MSU turned to Gulley on his next possession, but the ball was jarred loose and ended up in the Shockers’ hands. Marshall then fouled VanVleet on his ensuing drive to the bucket, and Wichita’s clutch man made one-of-two from the line with 8 ticks left.
With the game tied, 64-64, the Bears set up the final play of regulation, but Dorrian Williams’ 17-footer at the horn fell short, sending the game into overtime.
Free throws were hard to come by all night for Missouri State, but when the Bears finally got chances at the line in extra time, they couldn’t convert. Tyler McCullough scored on a put-back with 2:50 left in overtime that tied the game again, 66-66, but he couldn’t finish a 3-point opportunity when fouled on the play. Williams then missed a pair of potential go-ahead charity shots with just under two minutes to go that kept the score knotted at 66.
VanVleet single-handedly pushed the Shockers ahead 69-66 with a layup and later a free throw with 18.3 seconds to go. Marcus Marshall responded with a floater seven seconds later to get the Bears within 69-68. VanVleet then tacked on two more charity shots with just under 9 seconds showing to make it a 71-68 game, and WSU wisely fouled Devon Thomas before the Bears could attempt a potential game-tying trey. Thomas made one of his two charity shots to make it 71-69 with 5.8 seconds left, but his miss on the second shot was tipped around before Baker corralled the rebound and fed to Early who Gulley quickly fouled.
Early had a chance to put the game out of reach with 1.4 ticks remaining, but missed his first free throw to give the Bears hope. After Early’s second free throw went in and made it 72-69, MSU’s long in-bound pass to mid-court was knocked out by Baker. However, Scheer’s entry pass on the reset was stolen away by Early to seal the game and secure Wichita’s memorable comeback.
The Bears’ solid defense held the Shockers to a season-low 18 field goals and matched a season-low with a 35.3 field goal percentage (18-for-51), while WSU converted just 5-of-22 (.227) 3-pointers. The difference was at the foul line where Wichita State had more than double the number of free throw attempts to finish 31-for-40 (.775) at the stripe.
Wichita State also out-rebounded the Bears, 43-35, with 14 offensive boards leading to 10 second-chance points.
Missouri State finished 24-for-59 (.407) from the field despite going just 7-for-27 (.259) in the second half. The Bears were 10-for-27 (.370) from beyond the arc and converted just 11 of their 19 free throw chances (.579) with 13 turnovers.
MSU will return to action with a pair of Missouri Valley Conference road games this week. The Bears will take on Indiana State (13-3, 4-0) Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. (Central) on ESPN3, before traveling to Northern Iowa (9-7, 3-1) on Saturday for a Noon start on ESPNU.