Pickens Picks Up Bears in 69-63 Valley Win
Sr., G/F, Keith Pickens
Sr., G/F, Keith Pickens

Feb. 12, 2014

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 SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (17-8, 7-6) took over sole possession of third place in the Missouri Valley Conference here Wednesday with a 69-63 win over visiting Drake as Bears’ senior Keith Pickens contributed a game-high 18 points off the bench.

 Pickens also registered 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and a pair of steals while going 8-of-9 at the foul line. Christian Kirk added 12 points for MSU, while Jarmar Gulley notched his 11th straight double-figure scoring game with 11 points.

 Drake (12-13, 3-10) was led by Aaron Hawley who went 7-for-11 from the field to contribute 18 points, while Richard Carter tallied 17 for the Bulldogs.



 Free throw shooting and rebounding made the difference as MSU finished 23-for-29 (.793) at the line, including 5-of-6 in the final 3 minutes. The Bears also out-rebounded DU by a 35-27 margin, including 12 on the offensive end that led to 9 Missouri State second-chance points.

 Drake, which out-rebounded the Bears 34-16 two weeks ago in Des Moines, got to the line just 17 times and made 9 (.529), while committing 13 turnovers.

 After trailing 39-36 at the break, Drake came out of the locker room with four unanswered points to start the second half and take a 40-39 lead. Ninety seconds later, the Bears led by six as the home club stormed back with Gulley posting a pair of free throws and later scoring on a spin move to the basket before Kirk converted a traditional 3-point play.

 The Bulldogs would pull within one point of the lead twice over the next 3 minutes, but a 7-0 run by MSU built its lead to its biggest of the night, 56-48, at the 9:17 mark after a pair of free throws by Pickens.

 With less than a minute to go, Hawley dropped in a long 3-pointer from the right corner to make it a 64-61 contest. However, DU’s only long-range shot of the second half was diminished on subsequent run-outs by Pickens as the Bears easily broke Drake’s press leading to easy buckets in the clutch for Missouri State.

 The Bears improved to 12-1 at home this season, despite making just 20-of-54 (.370) overall from the field and 6-of-21 (.286) from long range – 0-for-10 in the second half.

 “When you look at the stat sheet, and we’re 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from three, it took some extra-effort plays,” said MSU head coach Paul Lusk.

 Drake was an impressive 24-for-46 (.522) from the field but was just 6-of-19 (.316) from beyond the arc after scoring 14 bonus balls against the Bears on Jan. 29.

 In the first half, the Bears overcame a 64-percent shooting effort from the visitors with a good balance of inside-outside ball movement. MSU knocked down six 3-pointers and committed just a pair of turnovers to take a three-point lead into the locker room.

 After Gulley picked up his second personal foul at the 14:25 mark, the Bears’ top scorer went to the bench for the rest of the opening half, but MSU rallied without him. With the scored tied at 10, the Bulldogs dared an open Emmanuel Addo to shoot it from beyond the arc, and the senior transfer knocked down the long-range bomb to give the home club a 13-10 lead.

 After Drake took the lead briefly on a mini 5-0 outburst, the Bears got a put-back from Pickens and back-to-back 3-pointers from Nathan Scheer to push ahead 21-15 with just under 9 minutes to go.  Paul Lusk’s squad would not trail the rest of the half and ended the period on a 6-3 run with Ron Mvouika scoring four points in the final 1:20.

 The Bears close out the two-game home stand on Saturday at 8 p.m., when they host the Northern Iowa Panthers (12-13, 6-7) in a nationally-televised ESPNU game with major implications in the Valley standings.

 Tickets for Saturday’s contest are available at MissouriStateBears.com/tickets or through the Athletics Box Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678, starting at 10 a.m., Thursday to Saturday this week.

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