Bears put the clamps on Indiana State, 71-42
Throwing out a defensive net that held the Indiana State Sycamores to only nine field goals and .176 (9/51) shooting for the game, the Missouri State Bears recorded their third straight win and their most lopsided Missouri Valley Conference basketball road win ever as they blew past the Sycamores 71-42 Saturday afternoon in Terre Haute, Ind.
The nine field goals allowed and .176 field goal shooting are the lowest figures on record at Missouri State, with single game statistics at the school going back some 35 years. Ironically, it was a game at Indiana State in 2004, a 52-39 win by the Bears, in which the Sycamores had 11 field goals and shot .208 from the floor that stood as the lowest previous numbers for an MSU opponent in the two categories. The Bears held Wisconsin to 12 field goals in a 43-32 win over the Badgers in the first round of the 1999 NCAA tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
The only time in their 25-year Division I history the Bears have had a bigger winning margin in a road game was an 80-46 romp at Valparaiso in February of 1987.
In completing a 2-0 Valley road week and claiming their fourth league road win of the season, the Bears held onto sole possession of third place in the Valley at 8-5 and moved back to 10 games above .500 for the season at 17-7. MSU had previously been 10 above .500 at 13-3 and 14-4. Indiana State slipped to 11-11 overall and 4-8 in the Valley.
The Bears limited the Sycamores to .190 (4/21) from the field in the first half and .167 (5/30) in the second half. Indiana State hit .174 (4/23) from three-point range for the game to go with .179 (5/28) from two-point range. ISU got 22 points on field goals and 20 points from the foul line.
The Sycamores stayed in the game from the foul line in the early going as the Bears broke from a 10-10 tie to build a 25-13 lead with four minutes left in the first half. At that point, ISU had two baskets. Missouri State’s halftime lead was still a dozen at 33-21. The Sycamores had one basket the first five minutes of the second half as the Bears’ margin grew to 20 at 45-25, and Missouri State kept the defensive pressure on all the way as coach Barry Hinson cleared his bench and 10 of 11 Bears reached the scoring column. An ISU three-pointer in the last minute got the final margin back to 29.
The Bears finished with .453 (24/53) field goal shooting for the game, hit .783 (18/23) from the foul line and piled up a 45-34 rebound advantage. Blake Ahearn hit a pair of threes and tossed in all six of his free throw tries in the game to lead the way for the Bears with 14 points. Ahearn pushed his career total to 1,535 points to move past Jimmie Dull (1,532) and into seventh place on the Bears’ career scoring list. Ahearn also became only the third Missouri State player ever to hit 400 free throws in a career. He’s now at .951 (404/425) from the foul line in his career. Nathan Bilyeu had 10 points and nine rebounds. Drew Richards grabbed seven boards and eight Bears collected between four and nine points. Indiana State had no double-figure scorers.
Missouri State comes home to take on Illinois State in a nationally-televised (ESPNU) MVC game Tuesday, Feb. 6, in Hammons Student Center. Tipoff is 8:05 p.m..