Missouri State Basketball Scores Needed Victory Over Southern Illinois With Valley Run Warming Up

Missouri State starts playing consistent defense with a 69-54 win over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night.

The low-scoring game saw the Bears hold the Salukis to 36.2% from the field.

Since the Bears lost to Northern Iowa on Jan. 12 and allowed the Panthers to shoot 51.8 percent, Missouri State hasn’t allowed an opponent to shoot more than 42.4. %. The Bears are 6-1 since and are half a game behind first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I’m very proud of the way we defended and how fair we were throughout the game,” head coach Dana Ford said in his post-game radio interview. “No matter what was going on – whether we took shots, rationed shots, felt like we got a tough call or whatever and no matter who we went to on the bench, I thought we were pretty decent and consistent.”

Missouri State (17-7, 8-3) can claim first place in the Valley in its next two games. He hosts Loyola (17-4, 8-2) Sunday at 1 p.m. before heading to Drake (17-6, 8-2) on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Both teams are tied for first place and the Bears beat both in their first games of the season.

Northern Iowa is tied with Missouri State for third place with an 8-3 conference record. The two are set to play UNI on February 20. The Panthers will play Drake on Saturday in another crucial league game.

On Wednesday night, the Bears were led by their star duo Isiaih Mosley and Gaige Prim.

“We don’t always understand that,” Ford said. “I think it was a really good, balanced effort from our guys tonight and I’m very proud of our approach.”

Mosley finished the game with 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The performance comes after he scored just 14 goals in the Bears’ win over Evansville while scoring 24 or more in his six previous matches.

Prim continued his consistent offensive game, adding 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. That comes after scoring 23 goals and leading the team to victory over Evansville. Prior to the win over the Purple Aces, Prim hadn’t scored more than 17 points since a Dec. 1 loss to Illinois State.

The deciding stretch of the game came in the first eight minutes of the second half when the Bears started 7 of 11 from the field against one of MVC’s best defenses. The run had MSU up 10 at the Under-12 media timeout when they took a five-point halftime lead.

Out of timeout, the Bears scored seven straight while finishing with a Jaylen Minnett triple to take a 17-point lead. After a free throw from Saluki, Prim made jumps on the Bears’ next three possessions to take a 61-39 lead with 8:05 remaining.

The Salukis didn’t push the rest of the game as the Bears swept the season series for the second straight year. The Bears hadn’t swept back-to-back seasons against the Salukis since 2011 and 2012.

It all came with the Bears holding Salukis star Marcus Domask to nine points on 2-for-10 shooting. Donovan Clay was locked in Domask who scored 20 points on 4-for-11 shooting in their previous game.

Southern Illinois didn’t have the strongest offense this year, but they were still held to one of their worst games and second-worst performance from beyond the arc by making 3 shots about 20 in depth.

The Bears offense now has the two best offensive games against the Salukis this season while shooting at least 52.8% in each of the two wins.

It’s the type of game the Bears needed as they head into a tough time with championship implications at stake.

“I think our guys are looking forward to it,” Ford said of Sunday’s game against Loyola. “It will be a good game and a big game.”

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist for the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at [email protected] or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He is also a co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Missouri State Basketball: Bears beat Southern Illinois to sweep

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