Jermaine Mallett scored 17 points and dished out 5 assists to lead the Missouri State Bears past Evansville on Tuesday night, 74-60, in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both squads.
The Bears (11-1, 1-0) used a 23-6 run midway through the second half to build a 69-49 lead on a jumper by Kyle Weems with just 4:38 remaining in the game. Weems’ shot brought the Bears full circle after they led just 36-34 at the half.
A season-best 11 three-pointers powered the second-half surge as the Bears made 5-of-9 in the second period from beyond the arc and fired at a 55.6 percent clip for the game (30-for-54).
After Evansville tied the game, 40-40, at the 16:44 mark, Mallett hit a free throw, and Justin Fuehrmeyer nailed a three-pointer to give the Bears a 44-40 edge. The Bears then turned to big man Caleb Patterson for some instant offense has he hit two three-pointers and a pair of field goals in the midst of the squad’s impressive 23-6 run.
Weems scored 14 points for MSU, while Patterson dropped in 12. Weems was just one rebound short of a double-double for the second time this season, snagging a game-high 9 boards. Fuehrmeyer shared team-high assist honors with Mallett.
Evansville (6-5, 0-1) got 15 points from Denver Holmes and 10 from James Haarsma. The Purple Aces shot a respectable .471 (24-for-51) for the game, but could not keep up with the Bears beyond the arc, hitting just 5-of-11 from long distance.
Missouri State out-rebounded Evansville 28-27 and turned the ball over just 11 times. The win, which matched the squad’s 2008-09 season total, was Missouri State’s first road win in conference play since an 83-78 win at Indiana State to close out the 2007-08 league slate.
Cuonzo Martin’s squad now returns to Springfield after a 3-1 road swing. The Bears entertain Illinois State at 7:05 p.m. at JQH Arena in their home conference opener. Tickets are available at (417) 836-7678 or on-line at www.MissouriStateTix.com.
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