Missouri State’s late rally falls short in 71-69 loss

DES MOINES, Iowa – After trailing home-standing Drake by 13 points with 11 minutes to go and by nine with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, Missouri State made a furious late comeback here Sunday, only to fall short, 71-69, in a Missouri Valley Conference shootout.

Gaige Prim had a career day for the Bears (10-11, 4-4 MVC), going for season highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Keandre Cook posted 12 points and 13 boards. It marked the first time two MSU players had a double-double in the same game since Jan. 7, 2018 (Alize Johnson and J.T. Miller).

Drake (15-6, 5-3 MVC) led 37-25 at the half and pushed its advantage to 59-46 on a 3-pointer by D.J. Wilkins with 11:40 remaining. Missouri State’s defense then rose to the occasion, holding the Bulldogs without a field goal for more than seven minutes while they chipped away with a trey from Cook, a jumper by Lamont West and a bucket by Ja’Monta Black. When Prim knocked down a pair of free throws at the five-minute mark, the Bears had made a game of it, 61-55.

Roman Penn, who led DU with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, soon knocked down a triple to push the Bulldogs’ lead to nine on Drake’s next possession. But just when it looked like things were out of reach, Missouri State knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from Isiaih Mosley and Black to make it a 66-63 contest with 1:23 remaining.

Cook corralled a huge rebound for Missouri State on Drake’s next possession, and Prim then made it a one-point contest with another pair of free throws with 45 seconds left, making it 66-65.

Penn soon made the shot of the game moments later, draining a three from the top of the key with 22 ticks to play and giving the home side a four-point cushion.

Still, the Bears were game for a fight down the stretch with a pair of layups by Cook sandwiching a 1-of-2 free throw possession by Penn to make it 70-69 with seven seconds to go.

Missouri State quickly fouled Anthony Murphy at the 4.3-second mark, and he also made 1-of-2 from the line, giving the Bears the ball with a chance to win the game in the final moments. Cook grabbed the rebound from the missed free throw, drove down the floor, and pulled up from 30 feet to let a potential game-winner fly. But his shot ricocheted off the glass, off the rim and out as time expired.

The Bears out-rebounded Drake, 27-8, in the second half and outscored the Bulldogs by 10 in the second period to nearly erase a double-figure deficit on the road.

The Bears finished 27-of-70 (.386) from the field with a season-high in attempts. Coach Dana Ford’s squad was also 7-of-25 (.280) from 3-point range and 8-of-10 (.800) at the foul line with 48 rebounds and 12 turnovers.

Mosley also had 16 points for Missouri State with Ford Cooper Jr. dishing out a season-high 5 assists.

Drake was 25-of-67 (.373) overall from the field, 9-of-25 (.360) from bonus distance and 12-of-17 (.706) at the stripe with 39 rebounds and 8 turnovers.

In the first half, Missouri State used a 10-2 run led by Prim and Mosley to erase an early six-point deficit and lead 16-14 at the 12-minute mark. However, the Bulldogs held MSU to just nine points the rest of the half to take a 37-25 lead at the intermission. 

The Bears got 7 rebounds from Cook in the first 20 minutes but were out-rebounded 27-21 in the opening period.

The Bears will conclude their two-game Valley road swing through Iowa on Wednesday (6 p.m.) at UNI before returning to JQH Arena on Saturday, Feb. 1 against Indiana State.

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