Balanced Scoring Helps Bears Past Tritons, 86-48, in Exhibition



SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State got at least six points from all 11 players in uniform to roll past visiting Missouri-St. Louis here Monday night in the exhibition season opener for both clubs, 84-48.

The Bears led by as many as 40 points midway through the second half, but the feisty visitors from the Division II ranks never stopped fighting in a physical battle on both ends.

MSU outscored UMSL by just seven points, 34-27, in the second half, but needed only maintain the momentum built by a 31-point halftime lead to secure the win before 3,832 fans at JQH Arena.  The Bears shot 52.3-percent for the game and outrebounded the Tritons by a 47-27 margin, forcing 22 total turnovers.

The Bears made just five of their first 22 shots to start the game, but managed to build a 13-8 lead with solid defensive pressure and rebounding.

A jumper by Isaiah Rhine at the 12:13 mark of the first half seemed to spark the home squad, and back-to-back three-pointers by Kyle Weems followed to extend the MSU advantage to 21-8.  MSU closed out the first half by making 16 of their final 19 shots to enjoy a 31 point lead advantage, 52-21.

Missouri State shot at a 51.2-percent clip in the first 20 minutes and forced 17 turnovers. The Bears improved from the field in the second half with a 54.2-percent effort and made good on 7-of-14 three-pointers in the contest.

The team balance was the storyline in the preseason tuneup from the Bears' perspective.  Freshman Michael Porter led MSU with 12 points on a 5-for-8 shooting effort, while Kyle Weems and transfer Nafis Ricks each scored nine. With the game seemingly in hand, Weems played just four minutes in the second half and did not add to his nine-point effort in the first half.

Also adding points for the Bears were Isaiah Rhine, Will Creekmore, and freshmen Jerome Jones and Keith Pickens with eight points each. Transfer Jermaine Mallett scored six points and had a game-high nine rebounds, while Adam Leonard, Caleb Patterson, and Ryan Jehle also added six points for MSU. Leonard also posted a game-high eight assists.

UMSL got 12 points from Zach Redel who was 5-for-6 from the field and Ryan Lawrence added eight points and a team-high six rebounds. The Tritons finished with a 34.0-percent shooting effort and were just 3-for-12 from beyond the arc.

The Bears return to exhibition play next Tuesday at JQH Arena against Henderson State University at 7:05 p.m., while UMSL has 12 days off before hitting the road to Murray State for another preseason game on November 14.



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