Missouri State fought all the way back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game, 56-56 with 3:58 to play, but could not find an answer down the stretch as the homestanding Southern Illinois Salukis prevailed Thursday night in Carbondale, 68-57.
The Bears’ comeback was paced by post players Will Creekmore and Wade Knapp who posted 15 points apiece, including 11 in the second half by Knapp. Both players came off the bench and responded with a more-physical effort, resulting in a career-best 13 rebounds by Creekmore.
After MSU (9-12, 2-8 MVC) tied the game on a jumper by Creekmore, Carlton Fay grabbed SIU’s 10th offensive rebound of the game and was fouled to put him on the line where he made the first of two free throws to give the Salukis (10-11, 5-5) a one-point lead, 57-56.
After a Missouri State miss on the ensuing possession, Bryan Mullins his Southern’s only three-pointer of the night, to extend the lead to four points.
In the second half, Mullins became the second player in MVC history to collect 500 career assists and 250 steals. He finished with 13 points, 10 assists and five steals to pace Coach Chris Lowery’s squad. Fay matched a career high with 17 points while Tony Boyle scored 14 for SIU.
The Bears were outrebounded for the second game in a row, 34-33, and committed 15 turnovers, while shooting 41.7 percent from the field on 20-of-48 shooting. More significantly, Missouri State connected on just 3-of-10 second-half free throws and made just 56.0 (14-for-25) from the charity stripe.
SIU shot 47.8 percent on 22-of-46 shooting, made 1-of-8 from three-point range and 14-of-17 (.824) second half free throws.
In the first half, a 15-4 run by Southern Illinois over a six-minute period late in the first half gave the Salukis a 39-31 lead. Creekmore’s jumper just before the end the half, brought it back to eight points after the Salukis briefly led 39-28.
The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening, but was postponed due to adverse traveling conditions. The Bears continue MVC play Sunday at Creighton (16-6, 6-4), beginning at 2:05 p.m.
Story courtesy MSU athletics.