SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State (3-10, 1-0 MVC) got 16 points from Anthony Downing and a carer-high 15 from Nathan Scheer to turn back visiting Southern Illinois (7-5, 0-1) here Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both clubs.
The Salukis, who trailed 39-32 at the intermission, came out of the locker room with a purpose to start the second period. Coach Barry Hinson's squad scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second half and led 44-41 after a pair of free throws by Desmar Jackson at the 14:56 mark. The Bears, however, seized control from there and went on a 17-2 run over the game's next six minutes with four 3-pointers in that stretch, including two by Scheer. MSU matched its biggest lead of the game on a trey by Marcus Marshall at the 6:14 mark that made it a 58-46 contest.
Southern scratched back late in the contest with a layup by Jackson and put-back by Jeff Early on back-to-back trips to cut the Salukis' deficit to 62-55. But Missouri State used a strong running layup by Marshall to regain control and then made 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:41 to seal the victory.
SIU was led by Kendal Brown-Surles with 12 points, while Anthony Beane, Jr., scored 11.
The Bears finished 20-for-37 from the floor and 10-of-17 (.588) from bonus distance, matching a season-high for 3-pointers. MSU was also 20-for-23 at the line and out-rebounded the visitors by a 26-20 margin. Paul Lusk's troops committed just eight turnovers on the night and got 28 points off the bench with MSU's reserves combining to shoot 9-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-5 by Scheer -- all threes.
Southern finished 22-for-48 (.458) from the field and 8-of-19 (.421) from long range. The Salukis capitalized on 7-of-9 (.778) free throw opportunities and committed just seven turnovers with Early snagging a team-high 6 rebounds.
The win was the seventh straight for Missouri State in the series with SIU, which dates to 1957.
After a warm reception for Hinson in pregame introductions, the 7,662 JQH Arena faithful saw three ties and four lead changes in the early going of the classic maroon vs. maroon rivalry. The Bears then found a groove and took over on a trey by Gavin Thurman that made it a 16-13 game at the 12:22 mark of the opening period. Just over four minutes later, the Bears went on an 11-2 run that saw the home club build its advantage to 37-25 on a 3-ball by Marshall. The Salukis ended the half with a 7-2 spurt, including treys by Brown-Surles and Jalen Pendleton in the final 3:37.
The Bears were 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half to help them to their sixth halftime lead in 13 games this season.
MSU will now take to the road for two MVC games this week, starting Wednesday at Evansville (7-6, 0-1), before traveling to Drake on Saturday. Both games will start at 7:05 p.m., Central. The Bears return to JQH Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 8 against Illinois State at 7:05 p.m.