Missouri State finally turned back Norfolk State on Saturday night after the visiting Spartans overstayed their welcome at JQH Arena, lingering for a great portion of the Bears’ 75-66 win on the first night of the Basketball Travelers Tip-Off Tourney.
Led by Corey Lyons’ facility record 32-point scoring effort, Norfolk State (1-7) tied the game three times early in the second half and took the lead for the first time on a free throw by Michael DeLoach at the 12:54 mark. DeLoach later hit a pair of foul shots with 6:20 remaining to give NSU a four-point lead, 64-60, at the time.
However, the Bears (6-3) took over down the stretch as Spencer Laurie scored seven points in a span of just over a minute, and MSU made five of six free throws in the final two minutes to seal the win. Laurie’s scoring run overcame a one-point deficit at the 2:46 mark to help the Bears to a 70-66 lead with 1:41 remaining. After a pair of Fuehrmeyer free throws moments later, the Bears held a 72-66 advantage and would never be threatened in the final minute.
Wade Knapp had a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Missouri State, while Laurie finished with 15 points, and Chris Cooks had 13 points and a career-best 10 assists.
In the first game of the three-day tournament, Middle Tennessee held off UC Irvine, 65-52.
Sunday, play resumes at the event with Norfolk State playing Middle Tennessee (5-5) at 5:35 p.m., before Missouri State entertains UC-Irvine (1-8) at 8:05 p.m.