This story will be updated
Indiana State (22-3, 13-1) escaped with a 73-71 win over Missouri State (14-11, 6-8) on Saturday afternoon at Great Southern Bank Arena.
A back-and-forth game down the stretch saw the Sycamores make the plays they needed to over the final 30 seconds to hang on. Missouri State has now lost two straight.
Missouri State basketball finds its zone in the first half
The Bears played the entirety of the first half in a 3-2 zone, limiting Indiana State star Robbie Avila inside and keeping the Sycamores from getting open shots inside in the arc. The strategy helped MSU take a 36-35 lead into the break.
Indiana State finished the first half 6 for 23 from deep with Ryan Conwell making four of the Trees’ 3’s and scoring 18 points in the first 20 minutes. Avila was held to just four points on 1 of 5 shooting with five boards.
At the same time, Missouri State got contributions from up and down its rotation. Alston Mason scored 13 points with Damien Mayo Jr. scoring seven. Mayo and Chance Moore, who were banged up in the Bears’ Wednesday loss at Northern Iowa and were uncertain to play, each played at least nine minutes in the first half.
Alston Mason kept pace with Indiana State
Mason scored 13 of the Bears’ first 22 points in the second half to keep the Bears up by one with 9:26 left. He was limited to just 15 points when MSU lost at Indiana State on Jan. 16.
Hustle plays also kept the Bears fighting against a team needing to win to strengthen its potential at-large chances. Mayo was on the court frequently diving for loose balls. N.J. Benson pulled down multiple offensive boards, turning into second-chance points.
Indiana State made the plays it needed late
Neither team led by more than three points from the 14:24 mark in the second half until there were 20.8 seconds left when Indiana State’s Isaiah Swope made a fadeaway jumper off an inbounds pass to go up by five. It came amid a 9-2 run when the Bears led by two with 4:26 left.
Missouri State entered that stretch only making one of its previous six shots. The Bears made a free throw and a meaningless layup at the horn to make it a two-point final.
Mason finished the game with 26 points, none coming over the final 9:53.
Conwell finished with 24 points for Indiana State with Swope scoring 19.
Up next: at Murray State
The Bears will travel to Murray State on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. matchup in Kentucky. The two entered Saturday tied for sixth place in the Valley.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or X at @WyattWheeler_NL.