Bears Let League-Leading Bluejays Off the Hook, Fall 65-59
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- On Senior Night at JQH Arena in Springfield, the Missouri State Bears took a 13-point lead on a jumper by Will Creekmore with 16:34 left in the game, but visiting Creighton stormed back with 42 points the rest of the way to win 65-59.
The Bears never trailed until a three-pointer by Casey Harriman at the 6:57 mark of the second half put Creighton (24-6, 13-4) up 48-47. On the Bluejays' next possession, Harriman answered the bell again with another trey to extend the CU advantage to 51-47.
Missouri State (11-18, 3-14) fought back on a traditional three-point play by senior Wade Knapp just moments later to make it 51-50, but the Bluejays responded on the other end on a similar three-point bucket and free throw by Cavel Witter.
Senior Chris Cooks tied the game, 57-57, on a pair of free throws for the Bears with 1:59 to play, but the dagger came at the 1:15 mark when Harriman hit his third three-pointer during the comeback run to give the Bluejays a four-point lead, 62-58.
Cooks, who had 11 points and a game-high seven rebounds, got to the line with 56 seconds to go, but made just one of the two charity line opportunities to make it 62-59.
Witter then made the shot of the night with 20.3 to play to give Creighton a five point lead. Spencer Laurie's three-point attempt on MSU's next possession was off its mark, and Justin Carter made a free throw with four seconds left to help Creighton keep pace with Northern Iowa in the Valley standings with a 65-59 win.
Laurie, a senior, and Will Creekmore shared game-high scoring honors with Cooks with 11 points, while MSU's third active senior player Wade Knapp scored 10. It was Missouri State's first Senior Night loss in 20 seasons, dating back to the finale of the 1988-89 season at Hammons Student Center.
Creighton got 11 points from P'Allen Stinnett and Witter, while Harriman added 10. The Bluejays made 16-of-19 free throws in the second half and forced the Bears into a season-high 19 turnovers, while shooting 52.2 percent in the game's final 20 minutes.
In the first half, Missouri State led by as many as 12 points, 22-10, on a pair of free throws by Will Creekmore at the 9:58 mark. After a bucket by Kenny Lawson, Jr., brought the visiting Bluejays back within 28-19 with 5:01 to go in the half, the Bears responded with four free throws by Ryan Jehle and Laurie to lead 32-21 at the break.
Missouri State closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Indiana State (9-20, 6-11) before playing in the State Farm MVC Tournament opening round game as the No. 10 seed at 8:35 p.m. on March 5 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.