A banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted Bradley (12-7, 4-3) past Missouri State, 69-66, in Peoria, IL., Saturday afternoon in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Bears (5-14, 3-4) overcame a 16-point deficit to tie the game with 4.3 seconds remaining on a drive to the bucket by Anthony Downing. MSU then applied pressure to Braves on the in-bound play and kept Walt Lemon, Jr., out deep on the right wing where he heaved a desperation shot toward the basket and off the glass for the win.
Lemon had a game-high 20 points for the Braves who won their second in a row, while MSU was led by Gavin Thurman, Downing and Marcus Marshall with 13 apiece.
The Bears dropped their third straight league game and matched a season high with 15 turnovers, but out-rebounded the larger Bradley club 33-25 and used a 58.3 percent shooting clip in the second half to mount the comeback effort.
After trailing by 15 at the break, MSU stormed out of the gates in the second half, reeling off the first six points of the period and capping a 10-2 run in the first three minutes to pull within 37-31. Bradley pushed back ahead by double figures briefly as Lemon snagged a steal and took it coast-to-cast at the 15:41 mark to make it 41-31, but the Bears kept their focus.
Keith Pickens started a Bears’ 6-2 run with an offensive rebound and layup, followed by a 15-footer by Christian Kirk as the shot clock expired, and a steal and layup by Downing that made it a five-point game with just under 14 minutes to go.
After Bradley center Will Egolf picked up his fourth foul at the 11:46 mark, the Bears reeled off five unanswered points at the line to climb within 50-47 at the midway point, but the home club manufactured an 11-2 run from there to go up by 10 with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining.
The home club kept a double-figure lead with 3:57 to go when a free throw by Kirk made it 63-53. But MSU got a pair of 3-pointers from Thurman, a traditional 3-point play by Marcus Marshall and a tip-in by Dorrian Williams to make it a 66-64 contest with 1:03 left. In the final minute, the Bears forced BU’s Jake Eastman into a missed bonus ball from the left corner and called a timeout with 14.9 seconds on the clock. Downing found a seam from the top of the key and drove to the basket to tie the game with 3.7 seconds showing. The officials reset the clock to 4.3 after the replay review, giving Bradley time to get the ball to Lemon for the win.
MSU made 20-of-45 (.444) overall from the field and 8-for-18 (.444) from 3-point range while making good on 85.7 percent (18-for-21) of its free throws — its second-best effort of the season at the line. MSU got 7 rebounds from Downing and 6 apiece from Thurman, Kirk, and Williams. MSU’s bench outscored Bradley 14-7, including 6 points by Bruce Marshall on a pair of threes.
BU also got 17 points from Dyricus Simms-Edwards and 11 from Egolf in shooting 25-for-54 (.463) overall and 8-for-20 (.400) from beyond the arc. Bradley was 11-for-13 (.846) at the line and committed just 9 turnovers while collecting 9 steals.
In the first half, Missouri State shot just 28.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over nine times to trail 35-20.
The Bears rallied from an early 11-3 deficit to close the gap to one point after Christian Kirk got things started just over five minutes into the contest. Bruce Marshall then knocked down the first of two first-half 3-pointers for MSU, and Drew Wilson answered the call off the bench with a key tip-in that made it an 11-10 game at the 10:33 mark.
After Will Egolf knocked down a trey for Bradley, Bruce Marshall responded with his second 3-ball of the opening stanza to make it 14-13 just past the halfway point. But the Bears went nearly eight minutes without a field goal from there while the Braves knocked down five more 3-pointers and led by as many as 16.
The Bears now return to JQH Arena for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff against Wichita State on Wednesday night.