Bears hold off Bradley for 100th win at JQH Arena

 

SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (14-7, 5-3 MVC) used a 10-0 run late in the second half to close out a 76-62 Missouri Valley Conference home win over Bradley here Saturday, giving the Bears their 100th win at JQH Arena.

MSU got a game-high 24 points from Dequon Miller, who posted a career high for the second straight game, while Chris Kendrix contributed 17 off the bench, and Alize Johnson notched his 12th double-double of the campaign with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Kendrix also posted 4 steals for the home side, which improved to 100-43 in its ninth season at JQH Arena.

Bradley (8-13, 3-5) was led by Donte Thomas’ 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Jayden Hodgson added 16 points.

Missouri State never trailed after falling behind 2-0 in the opening minute, leading by as many as 16 in the second half to improve to 10-2 at home this season.

After taking a 41-31 lead into the intermission, coach Paul Lusk’s Bears knocked down 3-pointers from Miller and Austin Ruder and got a dunk from Obediah Church to push ahead 51-35 with just over 15 minutes to go.

Bradley rallied with a Thomas-led 8-2 run to get back within 11 points of the lead at the 11-minute mark, and later closed the gap to six behind a 3-pointer from Hodgson with 8:38 remaining.

MSU closed out a four-minute scoreless stretch with three missed free throws, during which BU’s Koch Bar made it a 59-55 game. But the Braves would get no closer, and Kendrix helped ignite a 10-0 surge by the Bears down the stretch.

The junior went 4-for-4 at the line during the two-and-a-half minute run, with Johnson knocking down a clutch 3-pointer, Miller dropping in a pair of free throws, and Church ending the outburst with a charity shot of his own to give MSU a 69-55 lead with just over two minutes to play.

With 82 seconds to go, more free throws by Kendrix and Miller helped the Bears match their biggest lead of the afternoon, 72-56, with Missouri State finishing 11-of-13 at the free throw line in the last five-and-a-half minutes and 21-of-28 (.750) for the game.

Miller also added a game-high 4 assists for MSU, which also tallied 7 steals.

Johnson registered his ninth-straight game with 10 or more rebounds and his third straight double-double which included 7 offensive caroms.

For the game, MSU was 23-of-54 (.426) from the field and 9-of-22 (.409) from long range with a 38-32 rebounding advantage and just 11 turnovers.

Bradley, which also got 14 points and 4 assists from freshman Darrell Brown, made 19-of-53 (.358) from the field, 6-of-19 (.316) from bonus range and 18-of-27 (.667) at the foul line with 12 turnovers.

In the first half, the Bears cruised to a 10-point lead behind 12 first-half points from Miller who was 4-of-6 from the field. MSU shot out to a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the contest before a 9-2 return volley by the Braves made it a 22-18 game with just over six minutes left in the half.

Johnson took over with eight straight points for the home side over the next three minutes to push the Bears’ lead back to eight, before Miller and Kendrix helped the home club close out the first half strong with 13 points between them in the final four minutes.

MSU, which secured its stronghold on third place in the MVC standings, hosts Drake (6-13, 4-3 MVC) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at JQH Arena.

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