The Missouri State Bears bounce back after a tough home loss on Wednesday to beat Indiana State 67-61 Saturday afternoon at JQH Arena in Springfield.
The win keeps the Bears alive in the race for the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference, pulling them within a half game of Drake and Loyola, who each play on the road Sunday afternoon.
MSU shot only 33% from the field in the first half, but played tough defense to take a 25-22 halftime lead.
Tulio Da Silva came out red hot in the second half for the Bears, scoring eight points in the first four and a half minutes.
Keandre Cook hit a three pointer with 16:06 remaining to get the lead up to double digits, 36-26, then Ryan Kreklow drained a trey at the 10:34 mark to put the Bears up 43-31.
Cook’s second trey of the contest came at the 5:42 mark, extending MSU’s advantage to 54-39.
Indiana State was able to cut the lead to six points on a couple of occasions in the final two minutes, but the Bears made big shots down the stretch to hold on for a much needed win.
Da Silva led four Bears players in double figure scoring with 16 points and he added 11 rebounds for a double-double.
“They always double team a lot I feel like in the first half,” Da Silva said. “In the second half, it kind of opened up because they were taking a couple shots behind the arc, so I feel like it opened up a little bit for me in the second half.”
Josh Webster finished with 14 points, while Cook and Kreklow scored 11 points each.
For Kreklow and fellow senior Jarred Dixon, it’s the first time they’ve had a winning season in the Valley. “It means a lot to me and J-D, just for all the stuff we’ve put in here, to see it finally working out for us this last season. We’re not done yet. We’ve still got bigger goals, but it feels nice.”
Bears Coach Dana Ford says it was a good win after Wednesday’s tough 20 point loss to Northern Iowa. “We got off to a little slow start, but I thought our effort was so good that eventually, we started playing better,” Ford said. “I think in the second half, Webster and Tulio and I think Kreklow really helped us.”
Tyreke Key led all scorers with 19 points for the Sycamores, including 9-11 shooting at the free throw line.
The Bears held the Sycamores to one three pointer (1-8), hitting six shots of their own from long distance.
Missouri State improves to 16-13 overall, 10-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Sycamores drop to 14-14, 6-10.
The Bears will at Illinois State Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.
MSU has reached the 2,000 point plateau for the fourth consecutive season, and the 15th time over the last 20 seasons.
The Bears are 5-2 in February and have won five games in the month for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Saturday’s announced crowd at JQH Arena was 5,788.