Missouri State Edges Illinois State in MVC Tournament Quarterfinals
Reggie Lynch
Reggie Lynch

March 07, 2014

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ST. LOUIS - Despite trailing by as many as eight points with less than nine minutes remaining, Illinois State manufactured a 10-0 run to briefly gain a two-point lead at the 5:40 mark; however, Missouri State came back to edge the Redbirds, 53-48, eliminating ISU in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals Friday at Scottrade Center.

Zach Lofton netted a career-high 25 points while also earning career-highs in field goals (nine) and three-point field goals (five). He was the only Redbird to reach double-figures. Reggie Lynch matched a career-rebounding best with eight boards. He also added three blocks and one steal. Meanwhile, Missouri State's Austin Ruder matched his career-scoring high in a 21-point effort, including six three-pointers.

Illinois State shot 32.7 percent from the field compared to 31.4 percent by Missouri State. The Bears also outrebounded the Redbirds, 45-36, while ISU forced 10 steals contrasted with four by MSU. With the loss, Illinois State fell to 16-15, and Missouri State improved to 20-11.

Missouri State pulled out to a 10-2 lead early with three free throws from Jarmar Gulley, a three-pointer by Ruder and a Devon Thomas layup and jumper. Lofton netted ISU's first field goal with a jumper at the 10:41 mark, and the Redbirds later manufactured an 8-0 run - including seven points from Lofton - to trail, 15-13, with 6:53 remaining in the first half. A three-point play by Tony Wills pulled ISU within two at the 2:08 mark, but a Christian Kurt dunk with 20 seconds remaining secured a 22-17 Missouri State halftime advantage.

Nick Zeisloft drained a three-pointer 17 seconds into the second half before the Bears answered with a 7-0 run to gain a 10-point lead, matching their largest of the game. However, Lofton single-handedly narrowed the gap with three-consecutive three-pointers that cut the Redbirds' deficit to 34-33 with 13:17 remaining.

After a Ruder three-pointer reestablished an eight-point MSU lead with 8:32 to play, ISU responded with a 10-0 run from 8:19 to 5:40, allowing the Redbirds to take their first lead, 41-43, on a three-point play by Paris Lee. Ruder's three free throws briefly gave Missouri State a 45-43 advantage before Bobby Hunter put ISU back in front with a three-pointer at the 4:03 mark.

However, Ruder buried another three with 2:04 remaining to push MSU ahead, 48-46. The Bears never relinquished their lead despite Lofton cutting it to 50-48 with 11 seconds to play.

Illinois State bows out of the MVC Tournament, while MSU will face Wichita State Saturday in the MVC Tournament semifinals.

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