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Bears Fight Off Rugged Evansville Squad, 65-50, Friday at JQH




SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (12-3, 4-0) shot an even 50 percent from the field and got 17 points from junior Kyle Weems to turn back visiting Evansville, 65-50, here Friday night in Missouri Valley Conference play.

The win was MSU's 17th straight at JQH Arena, tying the club's longest home winning streak of its Division I era. The crowd of 9,134 was also the 10th-largest home crowd ever for the Bears and third-largest at JQH.

Nathan Scheer also scored a career-high 14 points for the Bears, Jermaine Mallett added 11, and Nafis Ricks notched a career-high 9 assists.

After leading by just one at the half, Missouri State opened the second stanza with a sense of urgency and opened up its first double-figure lead less than five minutes into the period.  A 9-0 run to start the half was sparked by a pair of buckets by Weems and a three-pointer by Scheer, his second of four on the night.

Evansville (7-7, 1-3) climbed back within 50-43 on a pair of layups by Denver Holmes and Pieter van Tongeren midway through the half, but the Bears responded with an 11-0 run to put the win on ice.

Ned Cox led Evansville with 10 points, while Kenny Harris added 8 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.

After firing at a 54-percent clip in the first half, the Purple Aces made just nine field goals in the second half and finished 22-for-49 (.449) from the field. UE was also 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, marking the second Bears' opponent in three games to leave JQH Arena with no three-pointers.

MSU had 12 turnovers on the night, but just four in the second half, and matched Evansville's 27 rebounds. The Bears were 24-for-48 from the field and 8-for-19 (.421) from three-point range.

Weems also had a game-high 10 rebounds to his second double-double of the season and seventh of his career.

In the first half, the Bears climbed out to a 7-2 lead in the first two minutes and change, as Leonard's trey at the 17:50 mark gave MSU a five-point advantage early. Evansville then went on a 12-2 run to build a 14-9 lead of its own with Colt Ryan scoring four of the Aces'  points during the stretch.

Missouri State then fought back into the lead over the next 12 minutes. A three-pointer by Scheer and a 17-footer by fellow freshman Corey Copeland gave the Bears a 15-14 lead with 10:33 remaining. Later, a pair of threes from Adam Leonard and Mallett over a two-minute stretch built the MSU advantage to 29-23.

Evansville ended the half on a 5-0 run with a pair of buckets by Cox to cut its deficit to 29-28 at the break.

Missouri State will now travel to Wichita State (13-2, 4-0) on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU for the early Valley lead.  MSU then returns home Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 7:05 p.m. to take on Southern Illinois.




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