SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State (14-6, 4-4 MVC) got 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from Jarmar Gulley to turn back visiting Southern Illinois, 69-63, here Saturday to help move the Bears into a three-way tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
It was Gulley’s second straight double-double, making him the first Bear since Kyle Weems in February 2010 to post double-figure points and rebounds in back-to-back games.
Gavin Thurman added 14 points for the Bears, who improved to 10-1 at home this season, while Dorrian Williams contributed 13 points and 6 assists.Austin Ruder was also in double figures with 12 points for Paul Lusk’s side.
The Salukis (6-15, 2-6) got a game-high 18 points from Desmar Jackson, while freshman Tyler Smithpeters added 16 points behind 4 3-pointers, and Anthony Beane added 11.
After the Bears led by two at the break, the lead changed hands four times in the second half before MSU took charge for good on a 3-pointer by Ruder with 7:36 to go. Gulley added a jumper on MSU’s next possession to stretch the home club’s advantage to 56-51 with 6:24 remaining.
Southern Illinois got within three points twice more over the next three minutes, but the Bears responded by making 9-of-10 foul shots in the final four minutes of the game. Still, it was Gulley and Thurman who made the game’s biggest plays down the stretch. After Williams made one of two foul shots to push the Bears ahead 61-56 with just over two minutes showing, Gulley snagged the miss on his second attempt and scored off the glass to give MSU its biggest lead of the night, 63-56.
With just over a minute to go and leading by four, Thurman backed down an SIU defender and scored in heavy traffic on a turn-around move to stretch the lead back to six. Williams and Nathan Scheer made four straight free throws from there, and MSU got back to the .500 mark in the league standings for the first time since Jan. 5.
Beane knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and made a free throw in the final 97 seconds to keep the Salukis in the contest. Aside from a career scoring high, Smithpeters dished out 5 assists, while Bola Olaniyan posted a team-high 8 rebounds – 6 on the offensive end – for Barry Hinsons’ club, which dropped its third straight.
MSU finished an even 21-for-42 from the field and 7-of-14 from 3-point distance, while posting its third-best free throw effort of the year on 20-of-23 (.870). The Bears were out-rebounded 30-24, but owned a 13-9 advantage in the second half. MSU also committed just 8 turnovers after committing 3 in the game’s first four minutes and outscored the Salukis from the bench by a 24-4 margin.
SIU was 23-for-50 from the field and 6-of-14 (.429) from bonus distance while contributing 11-of-18 (.611) at the line.
In the first half, the lead changed hands 11 times, but SIU was the team in charge early as the Salukis reeled off the game’s first 8 points and played nearly-perfect defense for the first four minutes. MSU climbed back with a 10-2 run to knot the score at the 11:51 mark on a 3-pointer by Ron Mvouika.
Neither team led by more than two until a 3-pointer by Williams and a pair of free throws by Thurman pushed Missouri State ahead 26-22 with just under three minutes left in the opening half. SIU ended the half on a 5-3 run and made it a 29-27at the break.
Missouri State will hit the road for a 7 p.m. game at Drake on Wednesday before returning home on Feb. 1 for a 2:05 p.m. tipoff against Bradley on Hall of Fame weekend at JQH Arena. Tickets for the Bradley game are available at MissouriStateBears.com/tickets and during regular box office hours at JQH Arena and (417) 836-7678.
Release prepared by Missouri State Men’s Basketball