Pickens Dominates Boards in Bears' Victory
Dec. 21, 2013
Austin Ruder, who was 4-of-7 from 3-point range, also contributed to MSU's seventh straight home victory by adding 12 points.
Alabama A&M (3-6) was led by Brandon Ellis with 8 points and Justin Banks with 8 rebounds.
MSU used solid free throw shooting and rebounding in the second half to put the game out of reach. The Bears finished 25-of-31 (.806) at the foul line and owned a 47-34 rebounding advantage.
After the Bulldogs trimmed a 26-21 halftime deficit to 31-27 on a trey by Nicolas West at the 16:40 mark of the second half, Missouri State went on a 16-5 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to push ahead 47-32. Pickens ended the run with five unanswered points with Ruder and Marshall combining for three 3-pointers in the offensive outburst.
Pickens' layup at the 11:12 mark, however, would be the Bears' last field goal for nearly 10 minutes as MSU used an aggressive approach to get to the free throw line 14 times in that span, making 13, and securing a 60-39 advantage with just over two minutes to play.
Bruce Marshall ended MSU's field goal drought with 1:38 left in the game and later knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner that gave the Bears their biggest lead of the night, 66-43, with 40 seconds remaining.
Missouri State dominated the boards in the second half, doubling the Bulldogs on the glass, 26-13, over the final 20 minutes. Pickens accounted for 14 of his caroms in the second half and finished with the most rebounds by a Bear since Dale Lamberth pulled down 16 against Bradley on Jan. 2, 2008.
Despite shooting an even 9-for-18 from the field in the second half, the Bears finished 17-of-50 (.340) overall after a slow start. MSU was 9-of-20 (.450) beyond the arc and matched a season-high with 14 turnovers on the night.
Also contributing for the Bears was Tyler McCullough who blocked 3 shots, while Marcus Marshall tied a game high with 3 assists for the home club. Ruder also helped the Bears on the glass with 6 rebounds as MSU held AAMU to just two second-chance points.
The Bulldogs finished 15-of-56 (.268) from the field, 6-of-26 (.231) from long range and 11-of-17 (.647) at the line with 11 turnovers.
In the first half, both teams used significant runs to account for most of their scoring. Missouri State stormed out of the gates to take a 12-2 lead less than 8 minutes into the contest. After MSU pushed ahead 14-5, AAMU reeled off 7 unanswered points to pull within 14-12 at the 7:58 mark before a 10-0 outburst by the Bears gave the home squad a 24-12 advantage with just under five minutes to go. The Bulldogs ended the half on a 9-2 run to pull within 26-21 at the break with Jeremy Crutcher scoring the last four points of the period for AAMU.
Missouri State will host Southeast Missouri State (7-4), in the 143rd meeting between the clubs, in a 2:05 p.m., affair on Sunday, Jan. 29. Tickets are available at MissouriStateBears.com/tickets or during office hours at the MSU Athletics Box Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678. The box office will be open Dec. 26-30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the holiday break.