Missouri State got 17 points apiece from Jarred Dixon and Alize Johnson to help the Bears (9-2) turn back visiting Hampton, 88-75, here Friday in the Bears’ biggest offensive output of the season.
MSU, which extended its win streak to seven games, shot 48.5 percent from the field with four double-figure scorers – including 11 by J.T. Miller and 10 by Jarrid Rhodes – to overcome Hampton’s hot shooting.
Hampton (4-7) converted 53.1 percent in the first half to stay within seven of the Bears at the half, but MSU used a pair of threes by Dixon and a 7-1 run early in the second period to push ahead by 16 with 12:47 to play.
The Bears switched to a zone defense the second half to try to keep Hampton’s Jermaine Marrow and Kalin Fisher in check. Marrow finished with a game-high 29 points after a 17-point first half, while Fisher tallied 15 points. The tandem combined for seven of the Pirates’ 11 treys on the night.
Midway through the second half, three different Bears pitched in as part of a decisive 11-0 run in the span of two minutes. Leading 65-54 at the time, the Bears exploded like a cannon shot with Miller and Ronnie Rousseau III knocking down treys, Johnson tossing in a pair of foul shots, and Miller scoring on a traditional 3-point play to make it 76-54 at the 9:18 mark.
Missouri State used another 8-0 run in the final four minutes to stretch their lead to the largest of the night with Dixon hitting his final trey and Reggie Scurry collecting a 3-point play and a dunk to make it 88-64 with 3:27 to go.
The Bears cleared their bench for the final three minutes with Hampton scoring the game’s final 11 points in that span.
MSU shot a JQH Arena record 68.4 percent from 3-point range, making 13-of-19 shots from bonus distance on a night that also saw the home club throw down five dunks. The Bears also out-rebounded Hampton by double figures, 40-29, with Johnson posting his sixth double-double of the year with a game-high 12 caroms.
The Bears also matched a season high with 19 assists, including 4 apiece from Dixon and Rousseau.
For its part, Hampton stayed in the game by making tough shots. Marrow converted 10-of-18 attempts overall but 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Pirates converted 11-of-21 (.524) from bonus distance and 42.9 percent (27-of-63 overall.)
The first half was an offensive sprint with the Bears outrunning the Pirates, 49-42, to the midway point. Johnson posted 13 first-half points – including three treys – to lead the Bears.
After the Bears took a 21-14 lead seven minutes into the game on a triple by Ryan Kreklow, Hampton scored six of their next eight field goals from beyond the arc to stay within reach.
The Bears ended the half on a 7-2 run to push ahead by seven, thanks to a dunk by Obediah Church, a three by Jarrid Rhodes and a transition jumper by Dixon.
Missouri State plays its final non-conference road game of the season Sunday at Oral Roberts at 3 p.m.
The Bears return to JQH Arena on Dec. 19 when they close out the non-Valley slate against Wright State at 7 p.m.