Missouri State battled home standing Evansville to the third overtime battle between the clubs in four meetings, only to fall short, 62-59, here Wednesday in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Bears (3-11, 1-1) got 17 points and 9 rebounds from Anthony Downing, while Nathan Scheer added 10. Evansville (8-6, 1-1) was led Egidijus Mockevicius with 18 points, while Troy Taylor added 19 rebounds for the Purple Aces.
MSU nearly pulled off a miracle comeback, overcoming a four-point deficit in the final 15 seconds with baskets by Scheer with 7.6 to go before Downing stole the inbound pass and scored the tying layup with 4.4 to go to force the extra period.
In overtime, Evansville went 5-for-8 from the field, including a key jumper by Ned Cox with 5.4 seconds left to seal the win.
MSU fell behind by double figures for the first time when a pair of free throws by Egidijus Mockevicius made it a 27-17 game just over two minutes into the second half. A jumper by Colt Ryan a minute later made it 29-19 before the Bears began their run.
A put-back by Keith Pickens and a flurry of 3-pointers -- two by Scheer and one by Gavin Thurman -- over a two minute span brought MSU back within 32-30 at the 12:46 mark. Colt Ryan ended the 12-3 MSU run with a jumpshot 20 seconds later to give UE a four-point cushion.
That's when Downing took over for the Bears. The club's lone active senior reeled off the Bears' next 8 points, including two go-ahead baskets in a two-minute stretch.
After the clubs exchanged leads and broke two ties, Gavin Thurman put MSU by its widest margin of the game with a 3-pointer at the 3:49 mark. The Bears eventually built that into a 47-43 lead with a Pickens basket at the 3-minute mark. The home team got to the foul line four times in the final 2:18 and made all four shots. A pair of foul shots by Ryan with 15.3 to go gave the Aces a 51-47 lead before MSU's impressive last-minute heroics.
In the first half, Mockevicius got Evansville off to a fast start with his team's first nine points as UE led 9-4 just over four minutes into the game. After Colt Ryan scored a traditional 3-point play for the Aces at the 14:30 mark to make it 12-4, the Bears responded with a 9-2 run over the next six minutes to make a game of it. A high-arcing jumper by Downing at the 8:20 mark made it a 14-13 game.
But the Bears managed just one more field goal the rest of the half -- a bank shot by Williams that made it a 16-15 game with just over four minutes left. From there, Lewis Jones scored the final five points of the half for the Aces to make it 21-15 at the break.
MSU was 23-for-5 (.404) from the field and 5-of-16 (.313) from long range in addition to an 8-for-14 (.571) effort at the line. The Bears were out-rebounded 43-37 and committed 13 turnovers.
Evansville finished 22-for-61 (.361) overall and 2-for-15 (.133) from long range with an 16-for-20 (.800) effort at the line.
The Bears will have little time to recover when they travel to Drake (6-7, 0-2) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
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