Bison, Blizzard can’t slow red-hot Bears

FARGO, N.D. – Missouri State extended its win streak to six games here Monday with a 71-58 road victory over North Dakota State. The Bears got a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds from senior Alize Johnson who made 9-of-16 shots on the evening.

It was just NDSU’s third loss ever at the newly-renovated Scheels Center. Blizzard-like conditions at game time held the night’s attendance to just 1,704.

After battling tooth and nail for the first 32 minutes, the Bears (8-2) closed out the game on an 18-6 run after NDSU made it a 53-52 game with just under eight minutes to play. After Chris Quayle’s jumper at 7:57 got the Bison within one, MSU came out of the under-eight media timeout with a triple by Jarrid Rhodes, a layup and free throw by Reggie Scurry and elbow jumper by Ronnie Rousseau III to take a 63-52 edge and force an NDSU timeout.

MSU stretched its lead to double figures for the first time on the ensuing possession on a layup by Scurry on a great bounce pass by Ryan Kreklow that made it 63-52 with 4:20 to play.

Paul Miller hit a couple of free throws and a layup for the home side in the final four minutes, but Johnson took over down the stretch with a one-handed 10-footer and then a clutch 3-pointer with 1:25 to play for MSU.

With less than a minute to go, Scurry completed a traditional 3-point play on a strong move to the rim and dunk to make it 71-56 with 39 seconds remaining.

NDSU scored the game’s final points on a layup by Spencer Eliason, and MSU ran out the clock on its final possession to give the Bears their longest win streak since the start of the 2013-14 campaign.

Scurry finished with 13 points, while Jarrid Rhodes added 11 for the Bears. Johnson posted his fifth double-double of the young season, while Scurry added 7 rebounds to help MSU to a 42-26 advantage on the glass.

Miller led NDSU with 16 points as the only Bison player to score in double figures. MSU held NDSU to just 39.6 percent from the field (21-for-53) and 8-of-27 (.296) from long range.

MSU shot 47.5 percent for the night on 29-of-61 overall and 7-of-18 (.389) from 3-point distance with Rhodes, Johnson and Rousseau hitting a pair of bombs apiece.

In the first half, Missouri State went to the locker room on a 12-2 run, culminated by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jarred Dixon to lead, 37-32, at the game’s midway point.

Dixon scored the game’s opening basket to give MSU the early lead, but NDSU reeled off the next eight to build an early 8-2 edge.

MSU kept it close with solid defense from there, but five straight times the Bears got within two points of the lead, the Bison answered with a clutch 3-pointer, including twice by Quayle.

The Bears finally broke through on a hook shot by J.T. Miller with just under three minutes left in the half before Rhodes tied the game, 30-30, with a 3-pointer. NDSU retook the lead briefly on a hook shot by Deng Geu, but MSU scored the final six points of the half thanks to a pair of steals by Kreklow and buckets by Obediah Church, Scurry and the buzzer-beater by Dixon.

Missouri State returns to JQH Arena Friday evening when the Bears take on Hampton at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Hampton game are on sale now at MissouriStateBears.com or at the Old Missouri Bank Box Office at JQH Arena — (417) 836-7678 – during regular box office hours.