Bears Improve to 6-0 in Valley Play with 64-51 Win Over SIU
FINAL STATSSPRINGFIELD – Missouri State improved to 6-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference on Wednesday with a 64-51 home win over Southern Illinois before 8,112 fans at JQH Arena.
The win was the MSU's eighth straight. The Bears also extended their home winning streak to 18 games -- their longest stretch since 1970.
Cuonzo Martin's Bears (14-3) were led by Adam Leonard who knocked down three three-pointers to finish with 15 points, while Kyle Weems and Will Creekmore scored 13 apiece, and Caleb Patterson scored 10 off the bench.
MSU jumped out to an 11-point lead at the intermission and increased its advantage to 14 on a trey by Leonard just over two minutes into the second period. But, the Salukis (9-8, 3-3) began climbing back over the next seven minutes, capping a 12-3 run on a bucket by Mykel Cleveland at the 12:38 mark.
Carlton Fay, who scored 13 for Southern Illinois, hit a three-pointer two minutes later to make it a 45-41 game, but the Bears responded with a run of their own. Missouri State held the visitors to just two field goals over the next 10 minutes and extended its advantage to 14 again on a jumper by Weems with 50 seconds to go.
Weems and Leonard iced the victory with four straight free throws in the final minute, helping the Bears finish 22-for-28 (.786) at the charity stripe in the contest and outscoring the visitors by 17 at the stripe.
Southern Illinois was led by Mamadou Seck who tallied game highs with 18 points and 17 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. He finished 7-for-16 from the field and accounted for more than half of his team's 31 caroms.
MSU matched a season-low 43 field goal attempts, making 18 (.419) as it closed out a rugged MVC stretch of six games in a 15-day span. The Bears were just 6-for-19 (.316) from beyond the arc and equaled SIU's 31 rebounds.
Creekmore led MSU with nine rebounds, while Jermaine Mallett added eight. Patterson was also 6-for-6 at the line to contribute to his fourth double-figure scoring effort of the year.
In the first half, Missouri State made 53 percent of its first-half field goals and overcame 10 turnovers to take a 35-24 lead into the intermission. MSU fell behind 12-10 on a three-pointer by Kendal Brown-Surles at the 12:51 mark of the opening period. However, a layup by Creekmore 38 seconds later on a great pass from Nathan Scheer tied the game and started a 16-2 run by the home club over the next six minutes. During that stretch, the Bears built a 28-14 lead and never trailed again.
MSU will now gear up for a two-game road swing through the league, including Sunday's nationally-televised game (ESPNU) at Bradley (6-11, 0-6) at 7 p.m. and a trip to Indiana State next Wednesday (Jan. 19, 6:05 p.m.). The Bears return home to play Creighton on Jan. 22 at 4:05 p.m. in a game to be telecast on ESPN2.