BEARS BELT BRONCOS, 78-51
The Missouri State basketball Bears put together a 15-2 run to start the second half as they pushed a seven-point intermission advantage into a 20-point bulge and rolled on to a 78-51 victory over the Santa Clara Broncos Saturday in the championship game of the 20th annual Price Cutter Classic in Hammons Student Center.
Missouri State climbed to 6-1 for the season, won the Price Cutter Classic for the fourth year in a row and ran their home court winning streak to 11 straight as they handed Santa Clara its third loss in eight games. Santa Clara had defeated Alabama State 71-45 Friday night after Missouri State clubbed ASU 89-49 Thursday night in earlier Price Cutter games.
The Bears got off to a fast start as they mounted a 16-6 lead nine minutes into the game. Missouri State pushed its advantage to 27-12 with 6:44 left in the period before a Santa Clara run shaved the Bears’ lead to 35-28 at halftime.
Senior Nathan Bilyeu triggered the charge to start the second half as he hit two threes among his eight points as MSU ran out to a 50-30 margin before the first media time out. Coach Barry Hinson cleared his bench as 10 of 12 Bears reached double figures in minutes played and all 12 punched into the scoring column. The Bears’ biggest lead was 31.
Four Bears made the five-player all-tourney team, including senior co-captains Bilyeu, Tyler Chaney and Blake Ahearn plus junior Drew Richards. Santa Clara guard Brody Angley, whose 14 points Saturday gave the Broncos their only double figure performance, rounded out the group. Chaney, who had nine assists and no turnovers for the tournament and chipped in a dozen points Saturday, was voted the meet’s Most Valuable Player.
Missouri State held Santa Clara to .333 (20/60) shooting from the field for the contest and forced 24 turnovers to offset a 43-38 rebound margin for the Broncos. The Bears shot .448 (26/58) and came up with 15 steals as they asserted themselves defensively all night. Richards also scored 12 points while Ahearn had 11 and Bilyeu added 10.
The Bears stay home for another non-conference test Wednesday (Dec. 6) when they play host to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Hammons. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m.