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MSU's Marcus Marshall Defending Southern Illinois' Anthony Beane, Jr. In Missouri Valley Conference Play Sunday At JQH Arena Image by KTTS News-Chase Snider
The MSU Bears had their best shooting game of the season and ended an eight game losing streak, defeating Southern Illinois 70-59 Sunday at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The win, in front of a season high crowd of 7,662, also ends the Bears' 15 game losing streak against Division I opponents dating back to last February.
It was the conference opener for both teams and a homecoming for former Bears Coach Barry Hinson, who now patrols the sideline for the Salukis. Hinson got a standing ovation from many in the crowd when he was introduced with his team before the game.
The Bears took a 39-32 halftime lead only to watch Southern Illinois come back and take a 44-41 lead just five minutes into the second half.
But MSU went on a 17-2 run, highlighted by three pointers from Nathan Scheer (who had two during the stretch), Anthony Downing, and Marcus Marshall. That put the Bears ahead by nine, 55-46, with 8:56 remaining, and the Salukis (7-5, 0-1) could never get close.
Downing finished with 16 points to lead the Bears, followed by Scheer with 15 and Marshall with 11. Kendal Brown-Surles had 12 for SIU, with Anthony Beane, Jr. putting in 11.
Scheer says for him, the win was all about staying the course. "My teammates constantly having faith in me, telling me shoot the ball whenever I'm open because they believed in me." He also says it helped getting some time off during the Christmas break. "It kind of refocused our minds to get ready for the Valley because that's a whole other bear in itself. We said it's a whole new season here. The Valley plays a lot different than outside of league play."
Downing, the lone senior on the team, was asked what helped his team come out on top when briefly losing the lead in the second half. "We kept our minds," Downing said. "In our film sessions before coming into this game, we looked back on some games where we would drastically just lose it and never get it back. I talked to the guys and said this is what we watch film for. We've got to stay together and we'll be alright."
Bears Coach Paul Lusk says give a lot of credit to his upperclassmen for Sunday's win. "Anthony Dowing I thought was excellent," Lusk said. "He took nine shots but had 16 points, four rebounds. Keith Pickens was three for three from the field and had five rebounds. Nate Scheer obviously was five for five. So we got a whole bunch of production from the three upperclassmen that we do have, which we haven't gotten."
One thing the Bears were able to take advantage of was an injury to a Southern Illinois player. The Salukis suffered a major blow when forward Dantiel Daniels, who played 20 minutes, went down with a bad ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for some time. "It's his ankle and my head," Hinson said. "We don't have anybody that can score inside."
Hinson, who led the Bears to four NIT appearances in his nine seasons at MSU from 1999-2008, was emotional when talking about his return to Springfield, and the ovation he received. "Walking out on the floor and that response that not only I but my wife received, will forever live in my thoughts," Hinson said. "This place was extremely good to me for nine years. I've said this all along and I'll stand by it: Dr. (former MSU President Mike) Nietzel fired me. The city of Springfield did not fire me. I think the world of this place, and I'm going to come back now. I feel like I can come back home. This will always be home to me."
The Bears (3-10, 1-0) will play at Evansville Wednesay night. Tipoff is 7:05.
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