Bears turn back Wildcats in second round of Las Vegas Classic
The Missouri State basketball Bears got solid defensive and rebounding efforts and came alive in the second half to chalk up a 63-49 victory over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Wednesday night in Hammons Student Center in the second round of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic. The Bears moved to 6-0 at home and 7-3 overall as they prepare for the tourney semifinals this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 4-6 on the campaign.
The Bears had three double-digit scoring runs in the contest but it was the third one that put them over the top in a contest that was a see-saw affair for the first 30 minutes.
Missouri State ran out to a 10-0 lead the first five minutes of the game, only to have Bethune-Cookman battle back for a 16-16 deadlock midway in the half. The Bears immediately punched up 11 straight points for a 27-16 advantage but were outscored by BCU 14-2 over the last seven minutes of the first half and first five minutes of the second half as the Wildcats drew even at 29-29. From a 43-37 lead midway in the second half, Missouri State scored a dozen in a row for an 18-point lead and the Bears’ biggest margin was 20 at 59-39.
The visitors shot 53 percent from the field the second half but most of that was early in the period and Bethune-Cookman wound up at .442 (19/43) from the field for the contest. The Bears shot .410 (25/61) but enjoyed a huge 41-23 rebound margin in the game and had 15 steals to force 20 BCU turnovers.
Forwards Deven Mitchell and Chris Cooks led the Bears as each scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Dale Lamberth added 11 points and Spencer Laurie collected 10. Cooks added five steals and Dex Manswell came off the Bears’ bench with four points, five boards and three blocked shots. Dewayne Pettus led the Wildcats with 17 points. The Bears’ bench outscored the Bethune-Cookman bench, 30-11.
Missouri State’s Las Vegas Classic semifinal opponent at the Orleans Arena will be the Alabama Crimson Tide. The game tips off at 7 p.m. (CST) Saturday (Dec. 22). The other semifinal contest pits Iowa State and Purdue with the third place and championship games set for Sunday evening. Missouri State matches the 7-3 records of both Alabama and Purdue while Iowa State is 6-4.