Missouri State (11-21) used 18 points from Marcus Marshall and 16 points from Anthony Downing to turn away Southern Illinois, 61-53, in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball championship in St. Louis. The 18-point performance by Marshall puts him at 343 points for the season, just three behind Blake Ahearn’s freshman scoring record set in 2003-2004.

Southern Illinois (14-71) got as close as 39-34 after a 3-point bucket by Anthony Beane Jr., with 12:48 showing on the clock, but Marshall and the Bears responded strongly to make it 50-36 with 9:48 left.  Missouri State shot 48.8 percent (21-for-43) from the floor and made 20 percent (3-of-15) of their shots from 3-point range.

The Bears, the No. 7 seed, advanced to play No. 2 seed Wichita State in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6:08 p.m.