SPRINGFIELD – On a night dedicated to Missouri State’s five seniors, it was junior Jarred Dixon who stole the spotlight. The lanky guard scored a career-high 24 points and dropped in six 3-pointers against a visiting Bradley club that rallied from behind in the final two-and-a-half minutes to defeat the Bears, 82-78, here Wednesday.
MSU (17-13, 7-10 MVC), which dropped its third straight narrow decision, also got 20 points from senior Jarrid Rhodes, just one shy of his career high. Freshman Mustafa Lawrence added 11 points for the home side.
All five starters scored in double figures for Bradley (19-11, 9-8 MVC), including Nate Kennell who scored 20 points behind six treys of his own. The Braves also capitalized on an abundance of foul shots, converting 25-of-31 (.806) at the stripe.
Missouri State shot 100-percent at the free throw line but got there just nine times on the evening.
The see-saw battle featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties, but Bradley’s 6-0 run – all from the free throw line – in the final 51 seconds sealed MSU’s fate. After Rhodes knocked down two free throws for the Bears with 1:17 remaining to put the home club up by one, Dixon was whistled for a foul on Kennell with 50.7 ticks showing. Kennell made the two free throws to put the Braves up 76-75.
MSU turned it over on its next possession trying to lob the ball inside from the high post and had to foul Darrell Brown. Brown, who was 11-for-12 at the stripe, made both shots to push Bradley up by three.
The Bears called on a timeout with 24.7 seconds left and got the ball to Rhodes for a potential game-tying three, but when his shot missed, MSU had to foul Brown again. Seconds later, BU was up 80-75 after he converted both shots.
Rhodes found his mark with just under six seconds to play, draining his four triple of the night – and the Bears’ 13th trey – to make it an 80-78 contest. But with the Bears trying to foul Brown on the ensuing in-bound play, no call was made until the clock had reached 0.9.
Once again Brown made both free throws to ice the win for Bradley just before time expired.
The Bears led by as many as eight in the second half, using four unanswered points from Tanveer Bhullar to push ahead 57-52 at the 11:11 mark before a pair of Dixon buckets rallied Missouri State to a 61-53 advantage with 9:40 to play. Bradley, however, responded with a 12-0 outburst over the next two-and-a-half minutes to retake the lead in what proved to be the most significant run of the contest.
Missouri State shot an impressive 28-for-62 (.452) from the field and 13-for-30 (.433) from 3-point range. The Bears also out-rebounded the Braves by a 34-32 margin and committed just 11 turnovers.
The Bears also tallied 30 bench points and manufactured 12 second-chance points from 10 offensive rebounds.
Bradley made four fewer field goals than the home club, converting 24-of-52 (.462) overall and 9-of-21 (.429) from bonus range. The Braves committed nine turnovers and snagged eight steals.
In the first half, Dixon buried five 3-pointers to push Missouri State to a 41-38 lead at the midway point. The first half saw six ties and eight lead changes with Dixon reeling off 11 consecutive MSU points over a key three-minute stretch midway through the stanza.
Rhodes also had a scoring string, posting 10 consecutive MSU tallies over a three-minute period that helped put the Bears up 38-34 late in the period. Bradley rallied with a couple of buckets in the final minute to tie the game, but Dixon’s buzzer beater from 33 feet out sent the home side to the halftime advantage.