Missouri State (15-8, 5-7 MVC) missed an opportunity to break a nine-year draught in Carbondale Wednesday, letting a late second-half lead slip away in a 73-67 loss to Southern Illinois (13-9, 5-7).
When Kyle Weems’ three-pointer with 14:37 to go in the game put the Bears up 45-39, things looked great for the Bears. However, an 8-0 run by the homestanding Salukis brought the SIU Arena crowd back in the game and gave Southern a 47-45 lead on a three-pointer by Carlton Fay at the 12:47 mark.
The Bears fought back to even the game on a driving layup by Justin Fuehrmeyer on their next possession and then regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Will Creekmore and Adam Leonard’s six three-pointer of the game at the 10:37 mark. Leonard’s shot put MSU up 52-47. He finished with a career-high 29 points and was 7-for-11 from beyond the arc.
The Salukis closed out the final seven-and-a-half minutes with strong free throw shooting. SIU was 11-for-12 at the line down the stretch and rejected several MSU runs in the clutch. Leonard’s final three of the night at the 3:25 mark made it a 64-62 game, but Anthony Booker answered with a short jumper to put SIU up by four, and Gene Teague’s bucket off a triple team in the final minute put the game away.
Creekmore was the only other MSU player in double figures, scoring 12 with 7 rebounds. The Bears made 23-of-52 shots (.442) and were 10-for-23 (.435) from beyond the arc. MSU was also 11-for-17 (.647) at the line and managed a 36-30 rebounding edge. SIU got 16 from Teague and 13 from Bocot to lead the Salukis who made 44.4 (24-of-54) percent of their shots but 19-of-23 (.826) at the line.
MSU returns home Saturday evening for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff against Creighton at JQH Arena. Story courtesy of Missouri State athletics.