Bears knock off seventh-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 66-64
The Missouri State basketball Bears shot lights-out in the first half and then found a way back from a five-point deficit late in the game to record a 66-64 win over the seventh-ranked Wisconsin Badgers Friday in the semifinal round of the South Padre Island Invitational in South Padre Island, Texas.
The victory for the Bears came over the highest-ranked opponent a Missouri State team has beaten in 25 years in Division I. Wisconsin fell to 3-1 for the year as the Bears denied Badgers’ head coach Bo Ryan his 500th career victory in the contest. Missouri State will take its 4-0 record into Saturday’s tournament championship at 11:30 a.m., game against unbeaten Oklahoma State 6-0. The Cowboys advanced Friday with a 66-65 victory over Auburn. Auburn and Wisconsin will play for third place at 2:00 p.m.
The Bears led for the first 32 minutes of the contest before Wisconsin forged a 55-55 tie with 7:40 to play in the game as UW All-American forward Alando Tucker scored nine straight Badger points. Wisconsin got two putbacks from Joe Krabbenhoft and stretched its lead to 62-57 on a three-point play by Tucker with 5:24 remaining. The Bears kicked their defense back in gear and held the Badgers scoreless for over four minutes.
A layup by Blake Ahearn with five minutes left, a jumper by Ahearn at the 4:18 mark and a layup by Spencer Laurie at the 2:26 mark pushed the Bears back on top, 63-62. Nathan Bilyeu’s jumper with 1:27 to play completed an 8-0 Missouri State run and made it 65-62. Tucker added one of two free throws with 1:14 left but Bilyeu matched that with two charity tosses. Kammron Taylor hit one of two free throws with 46 seconds left and an MSU turnover gave the ball back to the Badgers with 15 seconds left. An errant three-point try by Tucker came ahead of the buzzer and the Bears got the rebound and the win.
The first half was all Missouri State as two threes by Ahearn fired a quick 7-0 lead and the Bears kept pouring it on. An 8-0 run moved it from 16-12 to 24-12 and gave the Bears their first double-digit lead. From a 35-25 advantage, the Bears punched up a 10-1 run for their biggest lead of the game at 45-26 with a minute left in the half. Wisconsin closed to with 45-32 by halftime.
Missouri State .636 (14/22) in the first half to .344 (11/32) for Wisconsin and Missouri State hit 6-of-7 threes. The Bears didn’t stay as hot in the second half offensively and Wisconsin slowly crept back into the contest, but the Bears prevailed at the end. MSU was at .451 (23/51) from the field for the game and the Badgers finished .393 (22/56). The Bears had a 36-31 rebound advantage for the game.
Tucker was the game’s scoring leader with 26 points while the Bears got 25 from Ahearn. Deven Mitchell had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Missouri State.