Kyle Weems with two minutes remaining gave Missouri State a 57-56 lead Saturday night against Bradley, but the visiting Braves scored the last seven points from the free throw line to steal a 63-57 win at JQH Arena in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Bears (7-7, 0-3) erased an early 14-point deficit with solid play in the second half and went up by three points with 6:02 left in the game on a pair of Wade Knapp free throws. However, Bradley tied the game at the 4:00 mark on a three-pointer by Chris Roberts who finished with a game-high 22 points.
A pair of free throws by Theron Wilson with 2:23 to play gave Bradley a 56-54 advantage before Weems’ trey at the 2:00 mark. The bucket by the Bears’ redshirt freshman would be the team’s last, and BU made seven of its next eight free throws to improve to 9-5 overall and 3-0 in the league.
The Bears didn’t lead until a driving layup by Cardell McFarland with 8:14 remaining gave Cuonzo Martin’s squad a 48-47 advantage, but Bradley quickly bounced back with a pair of free throws and a dunk by Roberts over the next minute.
Will Creekmore andSpencer Laurie led the Bears with 17 points apiece. Laurie had four three-pointers and a game-high five assists, while making three clutch second-half shots to stage MSU’s comeback.
Creekmore grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, including seven offensive boards, helping Missouri State to a season-best 41 total rebounds and 25 on the offensive end. The team’s +10 rebounding margin was also a season-best.
Bradley also got 12 points from Wilson who was 8-for-13 from the line. The Braves shot 47.6 (20-for-42) from the field and blocked eight MSU shots.
Missouri State shot a season low 19-for-64 (.297) from the field and made just six of 20 three-point attempts. The Bears also had 23 first-half rebounds, including 17 offensive boards, helping MSU to 18 second-chance points for the game.
The Bears are 0-3 in the conference for the first time since 1991-92 and have lost three consecutive home games for the first time since 1995-96. The team lost the services of its top scorer Chris Cooks to a concussion during the Middle Tennessee game on December 22 and have dropped four consecutive ball games since.
The Bears continue league play Wednesday at Evansville at 7:05 p.m.