Missouri State to face Indiana State for MVC tournament crown


Adam Leonard of Missouri State celebrates during the final seconds of the Bears’ 60-50 win Saturday over Creighton in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis.

Adam Leonard of Missouri State celebrates during the final seconds of the Bears’ 60-50 win Saturday over Creighton in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis. Photo by The Associated Press.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Trailing at halftime is no big deal for Missouri State.

For the second straight day, the Bears put together a second-half rally to advance in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Jermaine Mallett scored 18 points and matched his career high with 11 rebounds as top-seeded Missouri State beat Creighton 60-50 Saturday to earn a spot in its first conference championship game since 2005.

The Bears (25-7) will play third-seeded Indiana State (19-13) at 1 p.m. today. Indiana State upended Wichita State 61-54 in Saturday’s second semifinal.

After overcoming a 32-24 halftime deficit to beat Southern Illinois on Friday, Missouri State prevailed after trailing 30-25 at halftime and by eight in the second half Saturday.

“By now, I’m used to it,” said Missouri State’s Kyle Weems, who scored 15 points. “I’m just happy with the way we responded. We just stayed composed and shared the ball.”

The Bears were down 35-27 with 18:09 to play before putting together a 15-2 run to take a 52-44 led with 5:36 remaining, then held off Creighton, which made 1-of-12 shots during Missouri State’s spurt.

“I thought we did a good job defensively,” Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We were really able to bite down and defend.”

Creighton shot 29 percent in the second half after hitting 48 percent in the first half. Missouri State flipped its totals from 30 percent in the first half to 48 percent in the second half.

“In the second half, we made adjustments and that’s how we came out on top,” Mallett said.

The Bears hit 17-of-25 free throws while Creighton had just six attempts, making five.

Nafis Ricks scored 13 points and Adam Leonard added 10 for the Bears.

Kenny Lawson had 12 points and was the only player in double figures for the Bluejays (19-14).

“We played like we wanted to play for the first half and early in the second half,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We just weren’t very efficient in the second half.”

Missouri State’s 25 wins are its most since the 1986-87 team went 28-6.

Missouri State and Indiana State split two meetings this season, each winning on its home floor. Indiana State won 70-69 on Jan. 19, while Missouri State was a 73-66 winner Feb. 5.

III

Myles Walker scored a career-high 14 points to lead Indiana State in its win over Wichita State.

The Sycamores will be making their fourth appearance in the league championship game and first since 2001. They won titles in 1979 and 2001.

J.T. Durley led the Shockers (24-8) with 18 points and 11 rebounds. David Kyles added 10 points for second-seeded Wichita State.

Jake Odum scored 12 points for Indiana State, which lost twice to Wichita State during the regular season.

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