skip to nav skip to content
MSU's Anthony Downing Drives With The Basketball Against Illinois State Tuesday Night At JQH Arena
The MSU Bears are on a roll, beating Illinois State 62-55 Tuesday night in Missouri Valley Conference basketball action at JQH Arena and improving to 3-1 in the league.
Missouri State, who had a 32-25 lead at the half, extended the margin to 12 points with 10:14 left in regulation when Nathan Scheer hit his third three pointer of the night, but the Redbirds got as close as three points, 53-50, with 4:40 to play.
Senior Anthony Downing, who finished with 24 points (for the second straight game) and eight assists, got a layup with 4:04 remaining to increase the lead to five, 55-50, then came up with a big steal with 2:21 left.
Keith Pickens hit one of two free throw attempts with 1:23 on the clock to increase the lead to 56-50, and the Redbirds could get no closer than four points despite a couple of missed free throws by the Bears in the final minute.
The crowd of 5,134 roared as the Bears dribbled out the final few seconds of the game.
Behind Downing's 24, Marcus Marshall finished with 14 points, with Christian Kirk and Scheer putting in nine each.
Jackie Carmichael had 21 points to lead the Redbirds and pulled down 12 rebounds for a double-double.
Downing says the Bears are playing with a lot of confidence right now. "It shows we're really coming together and playing well with each other right now. We came from far away. We were losing games back to back to back but we never let our heads down and it just shows a bunch of courage from everybody."
MSU Head Coach Paul Lusk says he believes this was Downing's greatest game as a Bear. "I know he was great at Creighton (a career high 26 points on 12/28/11) but he had some other guys out there with him. There's a lot of responsibilty on him. The 24 points is great, but it's getting it in ten shots, being efficient with it. And then the eight assists, that's really important."
Lusk says his team had an answer when llinois State would pull close. "Every time they made a run, we were just kind of able to kind of hang in there and make a run and kind of hold them off. I was proud of our guys' effort."
The coach says he's proud of how the guys have kept it together emotionally after a 2-10 start and an eight game losing streak. "It's never as good as it seems, and it's never as bad as it seems," Lusk said. "We're 3-1 right now, but with this schedule and this league, you could be 0-4 the next games. It just doesn't matter. But very pleased with our guys with what we went through. We had some good moments the first semester, but we also had some very low moments."
Junior Nathan Scheer says the team tried to not get too down when the shots weren't falling early in the season. "It feels great to hit shots and it feels good to win games. It is what it is. It's the game of basketball and you're going to go through some lulls. But we all had faith in ourselves and each other, so that's really what it came down to. We knew we were a better team than what we were playing, and once the ball started to fall, everything started to change a little bit."
The Bears, who came into Tuesday night's game shooting 39% as a team, hit 46.8% from the field against the Redbirds (22-47) and connected on seven of 16 attempts from the three point line (43.8%). MSU had been averaging 29% for the season from beyond the arc, the next to worst percentage in the Valley.
Marshall, a 6-3 freshman guard, saw 30 minutes of action Tuesday, but had to leave the game with an ankle injury. "I'm feeling fine right now," Marshall said. "I'm just going to rehab, take care of it, ice it as much as I can before Friday. Hopefully I'll be ready."
MSU is now 5-11 overall and 3-1 in Valley play. lllinois State drops to 9-7, 0-4. The Redbirds were a preseason pick to finish second in the conference race.
The Bears will have a huge test Friday night as the 11th ranked Creighton Blue Jays come to JQH Arena. Creighton is 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Valley after blasting Drake 91-61 Tuesday night. Tipoff for Friday's game is set for 7:05.
|Submit photos to: