Missouri State’s rollercoaster conference opener against Illinois State at JQH Arena Sunday afternoon ended with the Missouri Valley preseason favorite Redbirds hitting 11-of-13 free throws in overtime to prevail, 72-69.
Spencer Laurie’s three-pointer with 15:22 remaining in the second half built Missouri State’s lead to 43-28, the Bears went cold from the field, and Illinois State (12-0, 1-0) went on a 22-2 run to gain a 50-45 lead on a layup by Lloyd Phillips with 6:09 left.
However, Missouri State regained the lead on a jumper by Wade Knapp at the 2:12 mark, 51-50, and capped a 7-0 run on a free throw by Justin Fuehrmeyer with 1:37 remaining to lead 52-50.
Phillips, who led ISU with 16 points, then quickly drove through the lane and got a circus-like one-hander to fall to tie the game with 1:26 left, and then hit a clutch three-pointer with 30.9 seconds left to give the Redbirds a 55-52 lead.
Laurie missed a three-pointer on the Bears’ next possession, and it looked like the Bears would not have a chance to stop the clock with three fouls to give in the final seconds. However, Phillips turned the ball over after two quick MSU fouls, and a three-pointer by Will Creekmore just before the horn found its mark to tie the game, 55-55, and force overtime.
In the extra period, the Bears got the first point on a free throw by Knapp, but a pair of jumpers by Brandon Sampay and two free throws by Champ Oguchi helped ISU gain a 61-56 lead at the 3:20 mark.
Knapp then hit a pair of free throws with 2:42 left and Creekmore hit a short jumper at the 1:52 mark to pull the Bears within 61-60. On Illinois State’s next possession, a missed jumper by Phillips fell into the hands of Laurie, and it looked as if the Bears would be shooting for the lead. However, Laurie was quickly stripped from behind by Phillips who passed to Osiris Eldridge for a dunk. He was fouled on the play and converted the free shot to give the Redbirds a four-point lead, 64-60, with 1:22 to go.
ISU would make its next six free throws to build a 70-63 lead before three-pointers by Fuehrmeyer and Weems over a three-second span brought the Bears back within two points, 71-69 with four ticks left. Emmanuel Holloway missed the front end of the two-shot free throw situation after the Bears fouled on the ensuing in-bound play, but converted the back end to give the Bears one more chance in the final seconds. However, Weems long three-pointer bounced off the rim, and the visiting Redbirds held on to a hard-fought 72-69 overtime win.
Creekmore had 19 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, and made 7-of-9 free throws to lead four Bears in double figures. Knapp was 7-for-8 at the line and finished with 15, while Laure scored 14, and Weems hit 12.Sampay and Oguchi finished with 14 apiece for ISU, while Eldridge added 13.
The Bears shot just 28.6 percent from the field (6-for-22) in the second half and were 21-for-57 for the game (.368). Illinois State made 81.8 percent of its free throws and was 23-for-48 (.479) from the field.
Missouri State held a 36-27 rebounding advantage and had 10 three-pointers.
The Bears travel to Drake (9-4, 0-1) on Wednesday afternoon (2:05 p.m.) as they continue league play in Des Moines, Iowa.
Story courtesy of MSU athletics.