Five Missouri State players scored in double figures, including three freshman, as the Bears secured an 89-61 win over visiting Philander Smith here Friday in the season opener for MSU.
Freshman standouts Gavin Thurman, Marcus Marshall and Drew Wilson led the way for MSU which won its 10th straight home opener. Thurman scored 19, Marshall added 16, and Wilson had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.Christian Kirk (14) and Anthony Downing (12) also posted double figures for Missouri State.
The Bears broke the game open late as Thurman scored MSU’s final 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to push the home club’s 22-point lead to 27 in the final 2:19 of the contest.
The Panthers climbed within 15 points three times in the second half, including a 12-2 run that saw Philander Smith get back within 59-44 with 11:26 remaining. But Kirk, who scored eight consecutive MSU points earlier in the half, ended the MSU dry spell with a layup with just over 11 minutes to go to end the threat.
At the seven-minute mark, Kirk threw down his third dunk of the night, and Nathan Scheer struck with his second 3-pointer of the contest just seconds later to put the Bears up 73-51. The lead teetered between 18 and 22 points from there until Thurman’s scoring outburst late in the game.
The Bears shot 48.5 percent (32-for-66) from the field, and made 9-of-26 (.346) from 3-point range while making 16-of-21 (.762) at the foul line. MSU also out-rebounded the Panthers by a 44-29 margin, just one shy of a JQH Arena rebounding record, and snagged 15 offensive caroms which led to 13 second-chance points.
Redshirt freshman Dorrian Williams had a game-high 8 assists for Paul Lusk’s Missouri State team, which had 23 assists to 10 turnovers on the night.
Philander Smith, shot 17-for-52 (.327) from the field, 5-for-23 (.217) from bonus distance and 22-for-26 (.846) at the line. PSC also had 14 turnovers on the night.
Alvin Nance scored 11 points for PSC (1-2), an NAIA school from Little Rock, Ark.
In the early going, the Bears used an 11-0 run to end the first half and took a commanding 45-28 lead into the intermission.
The Bears trailed by as many as five points in the first stanza. A pair of free throws by Nance put the Panthers ahead 9-4 at the 14:40 mark. The Bears roared back to tie the game just over a minute later on a 3-pointer by freshman Michael Simpson.
After a 20-20 tie at the 9:13 mark, MSU capped a 12-2 run over the next three-and-a-half minutes with Downing scoring seven oints in the stretch that resulted in a 32-22 lead with just under five minutes to go.
After a four-point play by Clayton Busby brought the Panthers back within 34-28 at the 3:34 mark, the Bears closed out the first stanza with 11 straight points, including five by Thurman, to lead by 17 at the break.
The Bears will have more than a week to prepare for No. 20 San Diego State, which invades JQH Arena on Nov. 17 at 1:05 p.m. as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.