SPRINGFIELD – A furious comeback by visiting Missouri State fell just short here Friday, as the Bears fell, 59-56, to No. 21-ranked Xavier.
A dunk by Gaige Prim with 1:29 to play tied the game, 56-56, just moments before teammate Keandre Cook snagged a steal on the defensive end to give the Bears a chance to shoot for the lead in the final minute.
Cook worked ahead for a shot from the left corner that fell short. A whistle after the shot initially appeared that Cook would get three shots from a Xavier foul, but instead the officials called a “flop” on Cook. The new rule resulted in a technical foul on Cook, which XU’s Naji Marshall converted to break the tie.
To make matters worse, the call gave Xavier the ball, which they later turned into a second-chance possession with a driving bucket by Paul Scruggs with 11.6 to go that made it a three-point contest.
The Bears had two cracks at a potential game-tying trey in the closing moments, the first by Dixon caromed off to the corner. The second attempt by Lamont West that went in and came back out as the buzzer sounded.
West and Cook led Missouri State (2-2) with 13 points apiece, while Tyrik Dixon scored 12.
Xavier (4-0) was led by Tyrique Jones with 15 points, Scruggs with 14 and Marshall with 12.
Xavier sprinted out to a 10-0 lead in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the game, but Missouri State survived the first-half storm to get within 32-30 at the intermission.
West got MSU’s scoring started with a 3-pointer to end the drought. He and Cook finished the first half with eight points apiece to lead the visitors.
After a strange technical foul on Prim at the nine-minute mark of the opening half resulted in Xavier leading 22-11 after a pair of free throws, MSU stormed back with a 12-4 run over the next four minutes to make it 26-23 on a 3-point play by Cook.
Cook drained another triple before the under-four media timeout to get the Bears with 29-26 before a layup by Kabir Mohammed made it 29-28. The Musketeers knocked down their final three-pointer of the period on a long jumper by Bryce Moore, before Dixon’s layup in the closing moments of the period got Missouri State within two at the midway point.
Early in the second half, Dixon’s triple got the Bears within 34-33 two minutes in before West tied the game for the first time, 36 apiece, with 17:03 remaining.
Xavier, which had 10 offensive rebounds in the second half, built its advantage to 49-40 near the midway point of the final period. The XU lead teetered between four and six until three minutes to go when Prim started MSU’s final push with an “and one” bucket and his game-tying dunk down the stretch.
The Bears were 21-of-44 (.477) from the field overall and 5-of-13 (.385) from long range with West hitting three triples. MSU was also 9-of-11 (.818) at the stripe in a hostile environment while letting a late rebounding advantage slip away in the waning moments in a 29-27 board advantage for the home squad.
Missouri State committed a season-high 22 turnovers, which led to 25 Xavier points.
Xavier was 22-of-53 (.415) overall from the field, 5-of-23 (.217) from the arc and 10-of-15 (.667) at the stripe.
The Bears will begin play in the Charleston Classic on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10:30 a.m. (Central) against Miami (Fla.) at the TD Arena in the first of three games in four days in South Carolina. Thursday’s game will air live on ESPNU.
Missouri State’s next home game is Tuesday, Dec. 3 against Murray State at JQH Arena. Tickets for the Murray State game, and all home contests, are available at MissouriStateBears.com, or by visiting the Old Missouri Bank Box Office at JQH Arena, (417) 836-7678, during regular box office hours.