A late-game comeback fell short for the Missouri State Bears (17-10, 7-9) here Wednesday, falling short in a 76-72 decision to Illinois State in Missouri Valley Conference play. After holding a 33-28 lead at the half, the Bears did not score a point in the first five minutes of the second period. Illinois State stormed out of the gates with 15 unanswered points to take a 43-33 lead. Dinma Odiakosa scored the first seven points for ISU, and the Bears were whistled for four personal fouls in the first two minutes to set the pace early.
A jumper by Adam Leonard at the 13:52 mark made it a 43-39 game, but the Redbirds reeled off 13 of the next 18 points to gain their biggest lead of the night at 56-44 with just 9:19 to play. The Bears trimmed their deficit to six points with six-and-a-half to play on another three-pointer by Leonard to make it a 58-52 contest. However, ISU then turned to Odiakosa again to reel off six straight points for his squad and his basket at the 2:03 mark extended ISUs lead to 68-55.
The final two minutes proved to be too little too late for Cuonzo Martin’s squad. Nafis Ricks tallied four points, and Kyle Weems hit a pair of shots to make it a 72-68 game with 31 seconds on the clock. After Alex Rubin hit one of two charity shots on ISU’s next possession, Ricks turned the ball over giving Odiakosa a free throw on the other end.
Weems hit a jumper with 11 seconds to go to make it 74-70, but the Redbirds collected two free throws from Lloyd Phillips in the final 10 seconds to seal a 76-72 wins after Ricks put-back at the horn. Adam Leonard had 15 points in the first half and 20 for the game to lead the Bears, while Weems picked up 15 of his 19 in the second half. Jermaine Mallett also added 12 for MSU which shot 48.3 percent from the field on 28-of-58. The Bears were also 9-of-21 (.429) from three-point range and made 7-of-10 (.700) at the free throw line.
After two road losses this week, seven straight for Missouri State, the Bears return to JQH Arena on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. to take on Nevada in the ESPN BracketBusters game. The contest is live on ESPN2 nationally, and tickets for the White Out event are available on-line at www.MissouriStateTix.com or by phone at (417) 836-7678.
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In the first half, the Bears rod the hot hand of Leonard to a 33-28 lead. After ISU jumped out to a 22-15 lead with 7:23 to go in the half, the Bears turned to Leonard who reeled off Missouri State’s next 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers to put MSU on top 27-26.
The 12-4 run was followed by a bucket from Redbirds’ big man Odiakosa to give ISU a 28-27 advantage with just under three minutes to play. However, Missouri State closed out the half on a 6-0 run to take a five-point lead into the break.