Missouri State shot a season-high 69 percent from the field and got a combined 59 points from Gaige Prim and Isiaih Mosley to turn back Evansville here Friday, 90-81, to open the final weekend of Missouri Valley Conference regular-season play.
Prim finished 15-of-19 from the field for a career-high 33 points, while Mosley tallied 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting with three 3-pointers.
MSU’s seventh straight victory clinches a third-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference for the Bears (16-5, 12-5 MVC) while tying a squad record for road conference wins in a season (7-1).
Evansville (8-15, 6-11 MVC) was led by Jajuan Newton with 26 points and Shamar Givance with 21.
The Bears made 72.7 percent of their shots in the first half to take a 42-37 lead into the break with Prim tallying 12 first-half points for the visitors. After Evansville tied the game, 30-30, on a layup by Samari Curtis with 3:16 left in the period, Missouri State went on a 12-2 run to lead by 10 after a Prim dunk. But the final minute of the half was all Aces with Givance reeling off five straight to get the home squad within five at the break.
Evansville continued its run to start the second half, eventually culminating in 11 unanswered points for the Purple Aces – nine from Givance – to push Evansville ahead 43-42 with 18:16 to play.
But Missouri State took the lead for good less than a minute later with a traditional 3-point play from Mosley that gave the Bears a 47-45 advantage.
Evansville used a flurry of free throw chances to stay within striking distance from there, getting to the line seven times in the span of four minutes. However, near the midway point in the final stanza, the Bears went on a decisive 10-2 run, powered by seven points from Prim and a 3-pointer by Jared Ridder to give the maroon side some breathing room.
Mosley and Prim put the team on their shoulders down the stretch, with Mosley pushing MSU up by 11 points twice, and Prim’s jumper making it 75-63 headed into the under-four-minute timeout.
Both teams tallied 15 points apiece in the final four minutes of the game with Evansville burying 5-of-6 three-point shots in that span, and Missouri State getting scoring from five different players before converting all six of its free throw shots with the game in the balance.
For the night, MSU was 34-of-49 (.694), including 8-of-12 (.667) from long range. The Bears also registered a season-high 52 points in the paint, converted 14-of-20 (.700) at the stripe, and out-rebounded the Aces by a 30-21 margin.
Keaton Hervey’s 7 rebounds led all players, while Demarcus Sharp distributed 6 assists for coach Dana Ford’s club.
Evansville finished 29-of-57 (.509) overall, 10-for-21 (.476) from long range – including five triples in the final 3:40 – and 13-of-19 (.684) at the line.
The Bears, who are now 7-1 in MVC road games this season, wrap up the regular season Saturday at 6 p.m., in a rematch against the Aces at the Ford Center.
The State Farm MVC Tournament runs March 4-7 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis with MSU opening up the tournament with an 8 p.m. quarterfinal-round contest on March 5.