Bears Hold Off Arkansas, 62-57, to Open JQH Arena
Missouri State (2-1) got 16 points, six rebounds and three steals from Kyle Weems to outlast Arkansas, 62-57 Saturday evening in the Bears' inaugural game at JQH Arena. Chris Cooks added 15 points for the Bears, including a key layup with 18.5 seconds left.
Cooks was 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, and beat the shot clock with a 18.5 remaining to extend MSU's lead to 60-57. Spencer Laurie and Ryan Jehle added free throws for the Bears with under 12 seconds to play to seal the win. Jehle tallied eight points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Bears.
After Missouri State built a 28-20 lead in the first half behind Cardell McFarland's six points, the Bears extended the margin to 33-20 at the 18:54 mark of the second half on a bucket by Cooks.
Arkansas rallied for a 14-4 run to cut the Bears' lead to 37-34 at the 14:24 mark as Rotnei Clarke scored eight points in a stretch, including two of his three treys for the Razorbacks (2-1). A dunk by Michael Washington tied the game, 42-42 at the 11:36 mark, but Weems' three-pointer with 8:00 left gave the Bears a 46-42 lead.
That Missouri State comeback was telling as the Bears rallied from two more deficits in the final six minutes, answering every Arkansas rally with a run of their own. The difference came with 1:07 to play on a jumper by Wade Knapp that erased a brief 57-56 Arkansas lead. Cooks' layup extended the Bears' lead to 60-57. On Arkansas' next possession, Spencer Laurie forced a held ball, and the Bears took over on the alternating possession with 12.4 to play.
Laurie and Jehle each hit a free throw apiece down the stretch, and the Bears opened their new arena in style with a 62-57 victory.
Clark finished with 19 for Arkansas, while Courtney Fortson added 10. The Bears got eight poinjts and nine rebounds off the bench by Jehle, who also led the team with five assists. Missouri State shot 48 percent from the field in the second half and committed just 10 turnovers on the game.
Next up, Missouri State will take on Utah at JQH Arena next Friday (Nov. 28) at 7 p.m.