Missouri State Edges Drake, 77-65
DES MOINES, Iowa – Freshman Joey King (Eagan, Minn.) matched a career high with 21 points, but it wasn't enough for the Drake University men's basketball team to push past Missouri State as the Bears held on for a 77-65 win Saturday night at the Knapp Center.
King matched his career-best set earlier this season against Xavier in the Direct TV Classic. He also led the team in rebounds with seven. Senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) poured in 17 points, 14 in the second half.
With the loss Drake falls to 6-8, 0-3 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Missouri State moves to 4-11, 2-1 in MVC play.
“We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “Missouri State has been playing really, really well and gaining a lot of confidence in their last three games. We were able to trim the lead down in the second half but just weren’t able to get enough stops in combination with conversions on our end to get over the hump.”
The Bears shot 44 percent from three point range on the night, hitting eight of their 18 attempts. They began the game making five of their first nine from distance.
The Bulldogs struggled from deep, shooting only 28 percent on 6-of-21 shooting and only making one in the second half. They shot 41 percent from the field on the night compared to the Bears’ 51 percent.
While Missouri State lit up the basket in the first half, Drake struggled to get a good offensive flow and trailed 36-26 at the break with a Simons buzzer-beater drawing the Bulldogs closer.
The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 10-2 run, thanks for four points each by King and senior Chris Hines (Houston, Texas) and a Simons three-pointer. The Bears’ led fluctuated throughout the remainder of the half with the Bulldogs coming within two at 55-53 with 7:10 to play.
“We got back to within two points there and then we didn’t get stops to keep the momentum and gave up a couple of drives to the basket for layups,” Simons said. “When we get back in the game, we need to do a better job of sustaining our energy and that’s one thing we’ve got to work on.”
A Gavin Thurman three-pointer with 2:05 to play extended the Missouri State lead to 64-57 and Anthony Downing hit six consecutive free throws to seal the game for the visitors. Downing led all players with 24 points.
“Downing played a terrific game and their freshman, Thurman, played a really good game,” Phelps said. “They made the plays and free throws down the home stretch to get the win.”
Drake was without the services of Micah Mason (Allegheny, Pa.) who had started the last four games at point guard due to illness. The limited depth at the position was challenged even more as Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) encountered foul trouble in the second half.
Drake will return to action Tuesday against nationally ranked Creighton (14-1, 3-0). The game in Omaha will tip at 7 p.m.