ST. LOUIS, MO—The Indiana State Sycamores defeated MVC Regular Season Champion Missouri State by the score of 60-56 in the Championship Game of the State Farm MVC Tournament on Sunday afternoon in front of 10,171 fans inside Scotttrade Center.
Indiana State won Arch Madness for the first time since the 2001 event and will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since that same season when the Sycamores downed No. 4 seed Oklahoma in the first round. The Sycamores improve to 20-13 on the season and have reached the 20-win victory mark for the season for the first since that 2001 team won 22 contests. Missouri State fell to 25-8.
ISU was paced by 15 points from senior Aaron Carter, who was 7-of-9 at the free throw line. He added four rebounds, an assist and two blocked shots. Jake Odum added 12 points with four rebounds.
The Sycamores hit 17-of-34 shots from the field, including a 5-of-12 mark from 3-point range. ISU was 21-of-32 at the free throw line while the Bears were held to 18-of-59 shooting (30.5 percent). The Bears held a 39-30 lead in the rebounding battles and used a 20-4 edge in offensive rebounds to earn a 21-5 lead in second chance points.
MSU erased a 52-44 lead with a 9-2 run that ended at the 4:35 mark left in the contest as ISU held on to a 54-53 lead. Odum hit a free throw to stretch the advantage to 55-53 and then he hit two more to make it 57-53 with 31 seconds left. Adam Leonard connected on a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to make it 57-56 and then Odum was fouled with 19 seconds left and hit 1-of-2 to make it 58-56. Jermaine Mallett turned the ball over with two seconds left and Jake Kelly finished the Bears off with two free throws with one second remaining to secure the 60-56 victory.
Missouri State opened the game on a 9-0 run, sparked by an early 3-pointer by Adam Leonard. ISU cut the Bear lead down to 9-3 on a 3-pointer by Aaron Carter with 16:30 left in the first half to open the Sycamore scoring. Richard hit a jumper to make it 9-5 with 14:10 left.
A pair of Carter free throws made it 12-9 and the score was tied at 12 with 12 minutes to go on a the 149th 3-pointer of Jordan Printys career, and is now fourth all-time at ISU. Kyle Weems countered with five straight to push the Bears ahead 17-12.
Carl Richards trey gave the Sycamores their first lead at 19-17 at the 8:20 mark of the first half. The game swung back and forth on an Adam Leonard 3-pointer for MSU and then Odum hit a conventional 3-point play with 7:30 to tie the score at 22. ISU gained a 24-22 lead on a Lathan jumper with 6:06 remaining. A 4-0 Bear run was stopped by a Printy trey to make it 27-26 with 3:10 left. Odum added a free throw 2:23 for a 28-26 advantage. The Bears got a Ricks free throw as well as a breakaway lay-up off a steal at the 1:18 mark for a 29-28 lead. Caleb Patterson hit a jumper with 35 seconds left for a 31-28 halftime advantage. The Sycamores trailed all three games at Arch Madness at the half.
ISU scored the first six points of the second half to take a 34-31. ISU took an eight points lead on two separate occasions in the second half, the last being a 52-44 advantage with 7:37 left.
Missouri State was led in scoring by Jermaine Mallett who scored 17 points. He was joined in double figures scoring by Adam Leonard and Kyle Weems with 11 points each.
ISU will now wait until Selection Sunday to find out their opponent and destination at the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show will be held on Sunday, March 13 at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on CBS.