Jan. 28, 2012
#MSUBears Game 23
Missouri State 63, Northern Iowa 51
Final Stats (PDF) I Season Stats I MVC-Only Stats
SPRINGFIELD -- In a rivalry that had featured four straight one-point decisions, Missouri State (13-10, 6-5) left nothing to chance here Saturday as the Bears rolled to a 63-51 win over visiting Northern Iowa (14-9, 4-7) in a key Missouri Valley Conference game.
MSU got 20 points and 10 rebounds from senior Kyle Weems who notched his 13th career double-double, while Anthony Downing scored 16. Jarmar Gulley also contributed 9 points and 10 boards for the home club which beat the Panthers at JQH Arena for the first time in four tries.
Weems scored 18 of his points in the first half to help Coach Paul Lusk's team overcome an early 9-3 deficit. A Marc Sonnen trey three-and-a-half minutes into the contest put UNI ahead by six in the early going.
However, the Bears took over from there and never looked back. Weems scored six points during the ensuing 20-3 run by Missouri State that pushed the Bears ahead 23-12. Making his eighth straight start, freshman Christian Kirk capped the MSU run with a short jumper with 8:27 left in the opening stanza.
The Panthers rallied within six after scoring on three straight possessions with five-and-a-half minutes left. But, once again the Bears responded by reeling off six straight of their own and led 34-24 at the break.
In the second half, the Bears' rugged defense held UNI without a point for more than four minutes to climb ahead 39-24. MSU started the second period with a dunk by Isaiah Rhine and a three-pointer by Downing to move the Bears ahead by 15.
Once again, the visitors kept their poise and rallied midway through the half as Seth Tuttle scored a layup and Deon Mitchell knocked down a trey and a free throw to pull the Panthers within 39-30. But a pair of MSU three-pointers over a two-minute span -- one by Downing and one by Gulley -- pushed the home club lead back to 15 and never dipped below 12 the rest of the contest.
The play of the afternoon came with just under five minutes to go. With the Bears' leading 54-39, UNI put together a solid defensive stand on a key possession. A UNI defender deflected the ball into the backcourt, sending Downing sprinting down the floor to retrieve it near the UNI basket with just 5 seconds left on the shot clock. The junior from Atchison, Kan., then sprinted back up the floor and knocked down a 25 footer as the shot clock expired to give MSU its biggest lead of the game, 57-39 with 4:52 to play.
The Bears went 4-for-5 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to seal the win.
The JQH Arena crowd of 9,376 was the biggest of the season for Missouri State which improved to 7-4 at home this season and snapped a two-game home losing streak.
UNI was led by Tuttle with 9 points and Matt Morrison with 8. Anthony James, Jake Koch and Chip Rank also scored 7 apiece for the Panthers with James snagging 8 rebounds.
The Bears got help from Michael Bizoukas who had 7 assists, while Isaiah Rhine played 10 minutes and recorded 6 points and 3 rebounds. It was the longest stint for Rhine since he started against Illinois State on Jan. 4. The Bears were without the services of Caleb Patterson who suffered an ankle sprain Wednesday at Illinois State.
MSU, which came into the game ranked No. 7 in the country in fewest turnovers per game (10.5), had just 8 mishaps on Saturday while making 10-of-12 (.833) at the free throw line. The Bears out-rebounded UNI 38-32 and shot 23-for-55 (.418) from the field and 7-of-16 (.438) from three-point range.
Northern Iowa was 20-for-53 (.377) from the field, 5-of-19 (.263) from bonus distance and 6-of-11 (.545) at the charity stripe. The Panthers had 9 turnovers.
The Bears, who retained a share of third place in The Valley with the win, will host conference co-leader Wichita State (18-3, 9-1) on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at JQH Arena. The Shockers play at Drake late Saturday.
Tickets for the WSU game are available now by logging on to www.MissouriStateTix.com, calling (417) 836-7678 or stopping by the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena during regular ticket office hours.
Missouri State will learn its opponent for the Feb. 17-19 SEARS BracketBusters game on Monday afternoon during a live ESPNU BracketBusters Selection Show.