Dixon scores 18, Bears come up short in regular season finale

SPRINGFEIELD – Visiting Drake got game highs 22 points and 13 rebounds from senior big man Nick McGlynn and rallied over the last 10 minutes to earn a 73-62 win over Missouri State here Saturday on the final day of the regular season for both clubs.

With the win, Drake (23-8, 12-6 MVC) earned a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season crown, along with defending champ Loyola.

The Bears (16-15, 10-8 MVC) were led by senior Jarred Dixon who scored 18 points on his senior night behind three 3-pointers and 5 rebounds. Fellow MSU seniors Josh Webster and Ryan Kreklow scored seven and six points, respectively, with Webster contributing a game-high eight assists.

The Bears also got 17 points from Tulio Da Silva who also led MSU with six boards.

Thanks to a 3-pointer by Webster in the final minute of the first half, Missouri State went into the locker room leading 34-33 at the half. But it took Drake less than three minutes into the second period to retake the lead, using a 10-2 run before the first media timeout to gain a 43-38 advantage.

Missouri State fought back within 48-45 after a traditional 3-point play by Keandre Cook with 12:21 to play, and then Kreklow silenced a 4-0 Bulldog run with a 3-pointer to make it 52-48 with 11 minutes remaining.

The tides changed a few moments later when Cook was whistled for a blocking foul on the defensive end. After the call, Bears’ head coach Dana Ford was then given a technical foul for apparently taking off his sport coat too aggressively. Drake made both free throws from the technical, kept possession, and Missouri State would get no closer than six the rest of the way.

During a key five-and-a-half minute stretch from there, Drake made 6-of-7 field goals, while the Bears went 0-for-6 from the field in the same span. By the time, Dixon sank two free throws with 1:33 to play, the Bulldogs led 68-56, and the game was out of reach for the Bears.

For the day, MSU finished 21-of-65 (.323) from the field, 8-of-23 (.348) from long range and 12-of-18 (.667) from the foul line with just four turnovers.

Drake finished 24-of-50 (.480) from the field, 5-of-9 (.556) from 3-point range and 20-of-24 (.833) from the foul line. Drake also out-rebounded the Bears 41-33 and overcame 11 turnovers.

In the first half, Drake used a 16-5 run over a six-minute stretch to lead 26-15 with just over seven minutes left in the half. But the Bears reeled off 19 more points before the intermission and finally took the lead on a 3-pointer by Webster with 58 seconds left in the opening period. Da Silva had two dunks in that stretch with Dixon draining two 3-pointers and Kreklow converting a traditional 3-point play.

Missouri State, which was picked eighth in the Valley preseason poll, will tie Southern Illinois for third place in the final MVC regular-season standings and serve as the No. 4 seed in St. Louis. The Bears will play No. 5 seed Bradley on Friday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m.

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