MSU Seniors Shine in 72-56 Win Over Loyola
Feb. 25, 2014
SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State started all four of its seniors who combined for 30 points in a 72-56 conference win over visiting Loyola Chicago here Tuesday. The Bears (19-10, 9-8 MVC) got a double-double from Jarmar Gulley – his sixth of the league season – and 14 points from fellow senior Keith Pickens to avenge an earlier loss to the Ramblers.
Gulley scored 10 points and snagged 10 rebounds to go with 5 assists, while junior Christian Kirk tallied a game-high 16 points to help MSU’s winning efforts.
League newcomer Loyola (9-20, 4-13) was led by Tony Nixon who went 5-for-9 from bonus distance to score 15 points, while Joe Crisman added 14.
For the second game in a row MSU never trailed, and the Bears held off a late rush by the Ramblers as Nixon dropped in a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes to draw the visitors within 10. But the Bears closed out the game on a 6-0 run to match their largest lead of the night as time expired.
Loyola opened the second half on a 9-2 run in the first five minutes to make it a 43-36 game, but a tip-in by Gulley and layup by Kirk got the advantage back to double figures for MSU with 12:33 to go. Before the 10-minute mark, Kirk added dunks on back-to-back possessions to get the lead to 13.
Porter Moser’s squad kept battling and reeled of six of the game’s next seven points to make it 52-44 with just over 8 minutes left. But as it did all night, Missouri State responded to every LU challenge, this time with a put-back by Gulley, Kirk’s third dunk of the night and a pair of free throws by Gulley to get it to 58-44 at the 6:43 mark.
Loyola would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way, and Missouri State improved to 14-2 at JQH Arena this season and 29-3 on Senior Days since moving to Division I in 1982-83.
Kirk finished 7-for-8 from the field with his second-highest scoring total of the season, while Pickens scored on 5 of his 7 shots. For the game, Missouri State shot an even 28-for-56 from the field, 6-of-15 (.400) from bonus distance and 10-of-15 (.667) at the line, while out-rebounding the Ramblers, 33-27. MSU committed just 8 turnovers on the night and blocked 5 shots.
Loyola was 9-for-18 from 3-point range and 21-for-44 (.477) overall from the field, but converted just 5-of-14 (.357) at the stripe. The Ramblers committed 13 turnovers and got a team-high 8 rebounds from Christian Thomas. MVC Freshman of the Year candidate Milton Doyle was just 1-for-8 from the field and had 5 points.
In the opening half, Paul Lusk’s Bears fired at a 57-percent clip from the field to take a 41-27 lead into the break.
A 7-2 run by Loyola 7 minutes into the game tied the contest at 16. However, the Bears responded with an 11-2 outburst, paced by 5 points from Kirk, to lead 27-18 with just over 6 minutes left in the period. MSU tallied a pair of 3-pointers just before the end of the stanza, including a 30-footer from Austin Ruder at the horn.
The Bears will conclude the regular season Saturday at 1 p.m., against No. 2-ranked Wichita State (30-0, 17-0 MVC) at Koch Arena. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN or ESPN2.