Visiting Evansville (8-9, 3-4) got the hot hand in the final 32 seconds of regulation and rode that momentum into an 87-82 overtime win Sunday over Missouri State (11-8, 4-3) in Missouri Valley Conference play.
Lewis Jones had a game-high 24 points off the bench for UE, which snapped a four-game MVC losing streak and won in Springfield for the first time since 2004. Troy Taylor added 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while Colt Ryan scored 22 for the visitors.
Kyle Weems led five Missouri State players in double figures with 17 points. The Bears lost their second straight conference game to close out a busy three-game week in league play.
With the Bears building a 74-69 lead with 40 seconds left in regulation on a pair of free throws by Keith Pickens, the Purple Aces turned to Denver Holmes who knocked down a clutch three-pointer with 31.6 seconds left to make it a two-point game. Evansville fouled Anthony Downing with 27.9 to go, and Downing made the back end of a two-shot opportunity to make it a three-point game. Holmes responded again with 16.1 ticks left with the shot of the night from the right wing to tie the game, 75-75.
Holmes finished with 16 points.
The Bears, who led by as many as 12 in the second half, got a good look on the final possession of the second half, but Downing’s three-pointer did not find its mark to force the extra period.
The Bears managed just one field goal in overtime and made 5-of-6 free throws to keep it close. Christian Kirk, who posted a team-high 9 rebounds for MSU, made it a one-point game with two-and-a-half minutes left with a free throw. However, a put-back by Jones on the next Evansville possession — after the Bears forced Ned Cox into a missed long-range shot — pushed UE’s back to three. Ryan knocked down a a clutch jumper with 67 seconds on the clock and then iced a pair of free throws with 6.3 ticks remaining to put it out of reach. The Bears were 0-for-4 from three-point range and 1-for-8 from the field in overtime.
The late-game rally by Evansville squelched an otherwise-solid outing by MSU, which led 66-54 with 9:11 to go. Downing scored nine straight Bears’ points during a two-minute stretch in the second half after Evansville had climbed back within six. Downing’s back-to-back three-pointers during the run built up a 12-point lead for Missouri State, its biggest of the afternoon.
Ryan hit two baskets during the ensuing 9-0 run for Evansville that made it 65-62 with 5:02 to go. But a traditional three-point play by Caleb Patterson in heavy traffic on MSU’s next drive seemed to settle things down. Weems sank a pair of free throws 27 seconds later to stretch the home lead back to 72-65 at the 4:13 mark before the rally in the final minute by coach Marty Simmons’ squad.
The Bears finished 25-for-57 (.439) from the field and 7-for-22 (.318) from bonus distance. MSU was a solid 25-for-32 (.781) at the free-throw line and held a 39-35 rebounding advantage. Missouri State committed an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers, including 9 off of Evansville steals.
Joining Weems in double figures were Downing with 16, Patterson with 13, Jarmar Gulley with 11, and Keith Pickens with 10. Michael Bizoukas finished with a career-high and JQH Arena record 12 assists while playing 44 minutes.
The Aces were 29-for-64 (.453) from the field and 4-of-17 (.235) from three-point range. UE was a spectacular 25-for-29 (.862) at the line, which proved fatal for the Bears who fouled 23 times. Evansville also took care of the basketball, committing just six turnovers in MSU’s second overtime loss of the season.
In the first half, Evansville jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Bears got on the board with a Pickens layup just over two minutes in. Three-pointers by Weems and Scheer over the next two minutes built a 13-7 lead for the Bears who reeled off nine straight points during the run.
Patterson scored six straight points over the span of 70 seconds pushed the MSU advantage to 33-23 at the 5:53 mark. However, Evansville closed out the half with with four free throws and 10 points by Jones in the final five-and-a-half minutes to make it a 42-38 game at the intermission.
Missouri State closes out a two-game home stand on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m.