Missouri State Holds Off Bradley, 74-61
Feb. 1, 2014
SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (15-7, 5-5 MVC) knocked down 12 3-pointers and shot 57 percent from the field to push the Bears past visiting Bradley, 74-61, here Saturday in Missouri Valley Conference play.
Jarmar Gulley led all players with 19 points and 9 rebounds for the Bears who won their 13th game at JQH Arena in 14 tries. Austin Ruder added 13 points for the winning side, while Ron Mvouika scored 10.
Walt Lemon, Jr., led four Braves in double figures with 13 points, while Omari Grier knocked down four 3-pointers to finish with 12 for Bradley (9-14, 4-6).
MSU used an 11-0 run at the end of the first half and start of the second to pull away and keep the visitors at arm’s length most of the second half. All five of the game’s lead changes came in the first half before the Bears ended the first period on a 7-0 run with a free throw by Nathan Scheer, a 3-pointer by Gavin Thurman and transition trey by Gulley to make it 33-28 at the break.
Paul Lusk’s club then came out on fire to begin the second half as Gulley scored on a quick layup before Ruder hit a cutting Mvouika for another bucket to force a Bradley timeout less than a minute into the period.
The Braves responded by cutting the Missouri State advantage from 37-28 to 37-34 over the next two minutes, but Gulley and Emmanuel Addo stepped up over the game’s next five minutes to keep the Bears ahead. After a 3-pointer by Grier made it a 44-42 contest with 12:35 on the clock, Addo dropped in one of the biggest shots of the game on a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a scramble to push MSU ahead by five.
Bradley added a free throw by Xzavier Taylor on its next possession to make it a 47-43 contest, but BU would get no closer than 8 the rest of the way as Missouri State scored 27 points in the game’s final 10 minutes, including three 3-pointers by Ruder, to pull away. The Bears made their last 8 free throw attempts of the afternoon and got a hook shot by Gavin Thurman with just over two minutes to go to climb ahead by 16, their biggest lead of the night.
Missouri State matched season-highs with 6 blocks and 12 makes from bonus distance. The Bears finished 25-for-44 (.568) from the field and 12-for-25 (.480) from 3-point range while making 12-of-16 (.750) at the line with just 9 turnovers.
Bradley also committed just 9 turnovers and won the battle of the boards by a 29-24 margin. The Braves collected 13 offensive caroms that led to 12 second-chance points. MSU’s amped up defensive effort held the Braves to 19-for-51 (.373) from the field and 7-of-18 (.389) from 3-point distance, while BU capitalized on 16-of-20 (.800) free throws.
The game started well for the Bears as Mvouika scored 8 points before the first media timeout to help push the home club ahead 15-4 just over five minutes into the contest. Bradley later pulled within 17-11 before a dunk by Christian Kirk brought the JQH Arena crowd to its feet at the 10-minute mark and extended MSU’s lead to 8 at the time.
But Bradley rallied over the next five minutes and used a 10-0 spurt as part of an extended 12-2 run to take a 23-21 lead on a bucket in traffic by Taylor with 4:43 to play before the half. The lead would change hands three more times before the intermission, but it was the home club that rallied with the 7-0 run just before the break to make it a 33-28 contest at the halfway point.
The Bears will hit the road for two Valley games this week – Wednesday at Evansville (7:05 p.m.), and next Saturday at Southern Illinois (6 p.m.). MSU returns to JQH Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 12 with a rematch against Drake at 7 p.m., in a game that will be featured as an ESPN3 exclusive. Tickets for the Drake game are available at MissouriStateBears.com/tickets, or during regular box office hours at JQH Arena and by calling (417) 836-7678.