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Second Half Sycamore Rally Falls Short At Missouri State

February 23, 2014


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A second half rally cut what was once a 15-point Missouri State lead down to just one point but it fell short as Missouri State earned a 77-66 victory over the Sycamores in front of 5,702 fans inside JQH Arena.


The Sycamores fell to 21-7, 12-4 MVC while the Bears improved to 18-10, 8-8 MVC. Despite the defeat, the Sycamores will be the No. 2 seed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis.


Jake Odum paced the team with 14 points as he hit 8-of-10 shots from the free throw line. Cummings added 12 points while Arop had nine points and five rebounds. The Sycamores did a ton of damage at the free throw line where they were 27-of-31 in the contest (87.1 percent). 


Trailing by 11 at the half, Dawon Cummings got the Sycamores cooking with a fastbreak conventional 3-point play on the second possession after the break and then Odum hit a runner as the clock ticked towards the 17 minute mark to draw within 39-31 of. Odum then continued the spurt with a free throw after the Eitel steal and the Sycamores cut the Bear lead down to seven points.


Manny Arop hit an open 3-pointer at the 15:23 mark to cut the Missouri State lead down to 41-35, but the Bears countered with four in a row as the lead grew back to double digits. The Sycamores got four points in a row off transition lay-ups from Cummings and Arop off defensive stops and the Bears lead was trimmed down to 47-40 at the 10:48 mark.


Loose ball hustle by Cummings and Brown made it six points in a row for the Sycamores as Brown converted a fastbreak lay-up to draw within 47-42 with just over 10 minutes remaining. Following a media timeout, Cummings made it nine in a row for the Sycamores and suddenly the Bears lead was just 47-45. 


The Bears ended the Sycamore run on a pair of Gavin Thurman free throws with 8:13 to go to push the MSU cushion back out to four points at 49-45. 20 seconds later, Gant countered with two free throws of his own to once again make it a two-point contest. After Gulley hit a jumper, Odum found Khristian Smith open in the corner for a jumper with just over seven minutes remaining and the MSU lead shrunk to 51-50. 


Missouri State came back with five points in a row to run their cushion back out to 56-50 with six minutes remaining. Arop ended the spurt for MSU with a driving lay-up at the 5:40 mark and the Bears lead was 56-52. Odum then answered a trey with a jumper of his from the wing to draw within 59-54. That would be as close as the Sycamores would get in the contest as the Bears earned a 77-66 victory by hitting their free throws down the stretch.


Missouri State scored the first five points of the contest before Demetrius Moore got the Sycamores on the scoreboard with a lay-up at the 15:53 mark to make it 5-2. The Bears lead grew to 16-7 but Gant countered with a trifecta and Arop followed with a pair of free throws and the Sycamores got within 16-14 as the clock went under the 10 minute mark.


The Bears would score the game's next 13 points over a three minute stretch as MSU's cushion grew to 29-14. Jake Odum -- the school's all-time free throws made record holder -- hit a pair of charity tosses at the 5:45 mark which cut the advantage down to 29-16.


Dawon Cummings hit a jumper in the paint with 30 seconds left before the break to cut the MSU lead down to 37-26 and he had a half court attempt which fell short as the Sycamores trailed by 11 at the break. In the first half, the Sycamores hit just 5-of-18 shots from the field (27.8 percent) and committed 12 turnovers but were 15-of-16 from the free throw line. Five different Sycamores reach had four points in the opening stanza. 


Austin Ruder led the Bears with 15 points.


Indiana State plays its final regular season contest away from Hulman Center when they travel to Illinois State on Wednesday, February 26. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. (ET).

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