Posted: Saturday, 03 November 2012 10:56PM

Bears close out exhibition schedule with win

SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State jumped out to a 12-0 lead early and never looked back here Saturday (Nov. 3) night in an 82-54 exhibition win over McKendree at JQH Arena.

Gavin Thurman was once again the Bears' top point collector with 18 points, while fellow freshman Marcus Marshall scored 15. Returners Christian Kirk (13) and Keith Pickens (12) were also in double figures for the home club with Pickens adding a game-high 8 rebounds.

Mike DeGregorio led all scorers with 20 points on an 8-for-13 shooting performance for the Bearcats.

In its final preseason test, Missouri State got defensive stops on McKendree's first 10 possessions to build the early advantage. Six different players scored in the first five-and-a-half minutes for MSU as Paul Lusk's squad scored the first dozen points of the game.

Pickens finished 5-for-7 from the field and scored five points in a 9-2 run early that helped Missouri State extend its early lead to 26-7 at the midway point of the opening stanza. The Bears reached a 20-point advantage after a three-pointer by Thurman at the 7:40 mark of the half that made it a 29-9 game at the time.

MSU led 39-17 at the break and scored three quick layups early in the second half with Nathan Scheer, Anthony Downing and Kirk reeling off six quick points over a 47-second span.

DiGregorio kept the visitors in the game late. After a trey by Clinton Happe at the 9:37 mark, DiGregorio scored the next 11 McKendree points until David Ruckman converted a short-range basket with 38 seconds left in the game.  Hoppe was the only other McKendree player in double figures with 12 points.

The Bears forced 23 turnovers and held McKendree to 20-for-53 (.377) from the field, despite three 3-pointers apiece from Steppe and DiGregorio.

Missouri State finished 34-for-68 (.500) from the field and out-rebounded the Bearcats by a 47-24 margin, including 17 offensive caroms. MSU committed an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers and made just four 3-pointers on the night (4-for-17) after knocking down 17 treys in their exhibition opener Tuesday.

Lusk's six freshmen combined for 40 points, while the Bears converted 48 points in the paint and collected 55 points from its reserves.
The Bears now prepare for their 2012-13 season opener on Friday when they entertain Philander Smith at 7:05 p.m. at JQH Arena. The game is part of a four-game home stand to open the season.

Final Stats -

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