It was a defensive battle for both teams, but in the end it was 16 th -ranked Southern Illinois that made the plays down the stretch for a 51-47 win at the Hammons Student Center Tuesday night.
Missouri State trailed 27-22 at the half, but fought back to take their first lead of the game just two minutes into the second half on a shot by Drew Richards. The lead continued to bounce back and forth, and the Bears went up by three on back-to-back buckets by Tyler Chaney with 3:15 to play.
Helias High School (Jefferson City) alum Jamaal Tatum nailed a 3-pointer with 1:11 to play, giving the Salukis the lead for good. SIU connected on six free throws down the stretch to seal the victory and stay atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
"We did not execute late-game situations very good at all," Bears coach Barry Hinson said. "When you play a good basketball team they’ll take advantage of that."
The win is the eighth straight for SIU. Missouri State had their five-game winning streak snapped.
"We gave great effort, but… it’s hard losing," Bears Blake Ahearn said. "It’s tough."