Cleanthony Early had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead visiting Wichita State (18-2, 7-1 MVC) past Missouri State, 62-52, in Missouri Valley Conference play. The Bears (5-15, 3-5) dropped their fourth straight league game despite a career-high 21 points from Wichita native Gavin Thurman and 14 from Anthony Downing.
The victory for the 20th-ranked Shockers was anything but a cake walk. MSU scored the final 7 points of the first half to trail 25-21 at the break and then opened the second stanza with a 12-0 run. Thurman sparked both surges for the home club as he scored Missouri State’s last 9 points of the opening period and then added 7 in the first four minutes after halftime.
Thurman’s second trey of the night gave Missouri State a 33-25 advantage with 16:17 remaining before Early got the Shockers on the board with a 3-pointer of his own. Downing then retaliated with a 20-foot jumper to put the home club ahead 35-28 with just over 15 minutes left in the contest.
The tides turned quickly from there. WSU would reel off 16 unanswered points over the span of five-and-a-half minutes to take a 44-35 lead just past the midway point of the half.
Freshman Dorrian Williams ended the six-minute dry spell for the maroon-clad Bears to make it a 44-38 game, and the Shockers’ lead teetered between six and eight points until the 4:27 mark. That’s when a layup by Carl Hall, who finished with 15 points off the bench, pushed Wichita’s advantage back to double figures, 55-45, and a transition layup by Demetric Williams at the four-minute mark ran WSU’s lead to 12.
Downing scored the Bears’ last seven points in a two-minute span to keep the fight going, but the Shockers made 5-of-6 free throws in the clutch to seal the victory.
WSU made just 37.0 percent (20-for-54) of its shots, the club’s second-lowest percentage of the season, and was 5-for-21 (.238) from long range. Gregg Marshall’s club made 17-of-22 (.773) free throws, tallied 14 second-chance points on 14 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over just nine times to overcome its third-lowest scoring total of the season.
Missouri State’s field goal percentage rebounded after a 28-percent start in the first half to finish 19-for-58 (.328) for the game. MSU was just 5-for-21 (.238) from downtown and made 9 of the 10 charity shots it was awarded. The Bears were out-rebounded 39-32 overall but managed 13 offensive caroms.
MSU’s freshmen accounted for 33 total points, including 2 by Drew Wilson who had a team-high 7 rebounds. Thurman finished 8-for-17 from the field and led the club in scoring for the third straight night.
In the first half, MSU got three quick points from Christian Kirk out of the gates to build the early advantage, but the Shockers got to the foul line four times in the first four minutes to take a 4-3 lead, later extending their edge on a baseline right jumper by Demetric Williams. Wilson’s reverse layup brought the Bears back within one at the 12:44 mark, and later Marcus Marshall tied the game with a 3-pointer that made it 8-8 with 11:15 to play.
After a pair of free throws by Downing made it a 14-12 game with just over seven minutes left in the first half, the Shockers reeled off 10 unanswered points to lead 24-12. Thurman then took over, scoring the Bears’ last nine points of the half in the span of five minutes, including a key 3-pointer, to make it 25-21 at the break.
The Bears will conclude a two-game home stand on Sunday at 2 p.m. when they host Drake.
Story courtesy of Missouri State athletics.