The Missouri State Bears made five straight free throws down the stretch to hold off a late surge by Central Michigan, winning 60-57, Monday night in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Spencer Laurie led MSU with 15 points.
The Bears (1-1) were 26-for-32 (.813) from the line on the night, and made up for their lack of three-point shooting with clutch defense and charity shooting. Coach Cuonzo Martin picked up his first career win with his team making just two of 13 three-point attempts.
Chris Cooks and Cardell McFarland each scored 14 for Missouri State, while Kyle Weems scored 10. Cooks also had seven rebounds. The Bears forced 20 turnovers with their pressure defense.
Central Michigan (1-1) made 7 three-pointers in the second half to account for 21 of their 33 points in the final period, nearly erasing a 15-point MSU second-half lead with a three-pointer by William Eddie with 33.8 seconds remaining to make it a 56-54 game. However, Cooks and McFarland each hit a pair of free throws in the final 31.6 seconds to seal the win.
Spencer Laurie closed out the first half with Missouri State’s last 11 points of the first half and helped the Bears overcome an early 14-7 deficit to lead, 34-24, at halftime.
Jeremy Allen led CMU with 20 points, while Robbie Harman hit six threes for 18 points.