Missouri State (21-7) was out-rebounded, out-shot and outplayed here Saturday afternoon, falling 80-67 to Valparaiso in the BracketBusters game on ESPN2.
The Bears outscored the Crusaders (20-8) in the second half, but the first-half play of both clubs dictated the pace. After pulling ahead 15-14 on a Kyle Weems three-pointer with 11:14 left in the first half, Missouri State never led again as Valpo jumped ahead 23-15 on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes. Valparaiso kep the pressure up before the intermission and built a 38-23 lead at the break.
Weems led the Bears with 17 points and 5 rebounds, while Jermaine Mallett scored 14, and Nafis Ricks added 11. But poor shooting was the story for the visitors. Weems earned his points on 7-of-21, while Mallett and Ricks were just 5-for-11. MSU finished 26-for-64 (.406) and converted just 5-of-19 (.263) from beyond the arc.
Valpo got 24 points from Brandon Wood who knocked down three treys, while Cory Johnson added 13, and Howard Little Scored 11. Ryan Broekhoff had 10 points and a game-high 7 rebounds to help Homer Drew and company.
In the second half, MSU was 18-for-37 (.486) from the field and cut its deficit to 46-37 on a jumper by Isaiah Rhine with 14:28 to go in the contest. But as it did all night, Valpo answered with another run, scoring five straight to extend its lead back to double figures and never looked back.
Missouri State was out-rebounded 39-27 in the contest, but forced 13 turnovers with 7 steals. The Bears committed just seven turnovers in the game and were 10-of-15 (.667) at the charity stripe.
With the BracketBusters behind them, the Bears now return to Missouri Valley Conference play on Wednesday at Southern Illinois (7:05 p.m.) before closing out the regular season Saturday at Noon at JQH Arena against Wichita State in a Maroon Out contest that will determine the MVC regular season champion.