Missouri State got a career-high 28 points from junior Ron Mvouika and shot 59.3 percent from the field in a narrow 94-89 road loss to Northern Iowa. Mvouika’s 6-for-6 effort from 3-point range was a Bears’ single-game record, helping him finish 10-for-13 from the field overall.
However, UNI shot a remarkable 67.4 percent from the field and got 26 points from Nate Buss and 21 from Seth Tuttle to remain unbeaten at home this season and ruin MSU’s comeback efforts.
The Bears dropped in a season-high 12 3-pointers, including seven in the second half. Jarmar Gulleyadded 16 points, while Tyler McCullough scored a career-high 13, and Austin Ruder scored 11.
The Bears erased a 13-point deficit with a solid second-half run paced by McCullough and Mvouika, but it was Gavin Thurman’s 3-pointer with 9:10 left in the game that gave Missouri State its first lead of the day, 61-59. It took the Panthers just 30 seconds to retake the lead on a trey by Max Martino, and UNI pushed ahead 65-61 moments later with a long ball from Matt Bohannon.
The Bears would rally within two on their next two possessions on a hook shot by Gulley and a dunk by Christian Kirk before Buss knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the game. Mvouika scored off the glass with 6:13 to go to trim UNI’s lead to 70-67, but Northern Iowa reeled off 9 unanswered points over the next two-and-a-half minutes to make it a 79-67 contest at the 3:50 mark.
UNI would manage just one field goal the rest of the way and made just 13-of-18 free throws down the stretch to open the doors for a Bears comeback run.
McCullough scored the first four points to cut the Panthers’ lead to 8, and Mvouika would knock down a trey and a layup with a Gulley basket mixed in to make it a five-point game with 93 seconds left. Mvouika and Dorrian Williams combined to make 3-of-4 free throws in the crunch, and then Ruder dropped in a huge 3-pointer with 25.6 seconds left to make it an 88-86 contest.
Mvouika was forced to foul Tuttle on the ensuing play, disqualifying the Frenchman on his fifth foul, while Tuttle responded with both makes to stretch it to 90-86. The Panthers then padded their lead to six on free throws by Wes Washpun with 10 seconds showing.
Ruder made things interesting again with another clutch 3-pointer five seconds later, but Tuttle made it a two-possession game and essentially clinched the victory as he made a pair of charity shots with 4.6 seconds to go to seal it.
On a side note Missouri State Athletics announced it is making upper-level men’s basketball seats available for half price for all remaining weekday games. The “Valley Weeknights” ticket special will make upper-level tickets available for as little as $5 when purchased on game days.
With the discount, all upper-bowl tickets for weeknight games will be available from $5 to $13.50, based on section preference and availability.
The MSU Athletics Box Office and call center will re-open Thursday at 10 a.m., at JQH Arena. Tickets for the Bears’ MVC opener may be purchased in person or by phone at (417) 836-7678.
The Valley Weeknights special is also good for upcoming games against Evansville (Jan. 21), Drake (Feb. 12) and Loyola (Feb. 25).