Chris Cooks posted 20 points for the second straight game, but Missouri State could not overcome the balanced scoring of the homestanding Illinois State Redbirds, falling 68-56 Sunday afternoon in MVC play.
Cooks’ three-pointer in the final seconds of the first half brought the Bears back within five points of the Redbirds, 29-24, but Illinois State came out with a 14-4 run to start the second half. ISU would build a 15-point advantage at the 12:45 mark, but the Bears fought back to cut the deficit to 55-47 on a long two-pointer by Kyle Weems with just under five minutes remaining.
Weems had 12 points off the bench and a team-best eight rebounds. He was 6-for-8 from two-point range, but missed all six three-point attempts. Isaiah Rhine also contributed six rebounds off the bench for the Bears.
In the first half, the Bears built an early 9-5 lead on a pair of Cooks’ free throws at the 15:38 mark before a 10-0 Illinois State run gave the Redbirds a six-point lead, 15-9 at the 13:20 mark. Missouri State then reeled off the next eight points to tie the game, 17-17.
Illinois State scored 10 of the next 12 points in the game to build a 27-19 lead as the Bears went more than 10 minutes without a field goal before a jumper by Weems with under a minute to go cut the deficit to 27-21. Cooks’ three-pointer just before the break made it 29-25, and the Bears would get no closer the rest of the way.
Illinois State (16-2, 5-2), shot 21 more free throws than the Bears and four players in double figures, including 15 apiece by Emmanuel Holloway and Lloyd Phillips. Both players also matched Cooks for game-high honors in assists with five apiece. Dinma Odiakosa also had 13 rebounds for Illinois State.
The Bears were just 4-for-21 from three-point range in the game (.190), but won the rebounding war by a 37-34 margin. It was Missouri State’s seventh rebounding advantage over an eight-game span. MSU made 35.5 (22-for-62) percent of its field goals, including 14 field goals in the second period, but got to the free throw line just twice in the second half.
The Bears (8-10, 1-6) return home Wednesday for a 7:05 p.m. game against Drake (13-6, 4-3).
Story courtesy of Missouri State Athletics