News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 6, 2011

Bears pull away in final minute for victory over Sycamores

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — After struggling in its last three games, Indiana State men’s basketball team wanted a better effort on both ends of the floor against Missouri State on Saturday.

It got it. But it didn’t get the win to go with it.

The Sycamores played far better than they had in losses to Evansville, Creighton and Wichita State, but Missouri State made the plays in the final minute to earn a 73-66 victory in front of 8,201 at JQH Arena.

It was ISU’s fifth consecutive loss, but ISU coach Greg Lansing thought that the Sycamores played better and could build off the effort in the loss.

“Nobody hates losing more than me, I really hate it, but I feel a little better with the way we’ve practiced the last three days,” Lansing said. “I think if we continue to improve and practice the way we have, we’ll be just fine.”

ISU point guard Jake Odum led ISU with 18 points and five assists. He also had five rebounds. Aaron Carter shook off a recent scoring slump with 15 points. Carl Richard, who played despite suffering from the flu, had a team-high nine rebounds.

“We played better as a team. We were flying around on defense and we swung the ball around better on offense. Missouri State is a tough team and its a tough place to play. We just fell a little short,” Odum said.

Missouri State’s experienced starting lineup — which includes four seniors — all reached double-figure scoring. Adam Leonard led the way with 19 points and Will Creekmore hurt the Sycamores in the paint for much of the game and had a 16-point, seven-rebound effort.

ISU had to change its rotation. Jake Kelly had the flu and did not play.

“Jake just said before the game that he didn’t feel very good and wouldn’t be able to go. Carl was very sick and played 34 minutes,” Lansing said.

Dwayne Lathan earned his first start since Jan. 1 and ISU also switched up its rotation off the bench.

“With Dwayne, I’m just looking for something, I’m trying to help Dwayne. Steve [McWhorter] has maybe hit the freshman wall, so I wanted to take pressure off of him. I just thought I’d change a little bit of something,” Lansing said.

Among those who got increased minutes was redshirt freshman Lucas Eitel. The Marshall, Ill., native played five minutes, all during key stretches of the game, and did a good job, with three points and a good defensive effort.

“When [Kelly] said he couldn’t go, Lucas stepped right in there. He passed up his first open shot, but knocked down his next one and did a good job on the defensive end. Lucas is going to be a good player for us, it’s just that we’re a little guard-heavy and he knows that. He practices like crazy and he’ll be ready when he gets a chance,” Lansing said.

The game was a crapshoot for most of its entertaining 40 minutes. In the second half, no team led by more than five points until the penultimate minute.

ISU led by as much as eight in the first half as it got off to a hot shooting start and avoided turnovers. The Sycamores had just two turnovers in the first half. After Missouri State (18-6, 10-3) put together a 7-0 run late in the first half to take a 31-29 lead, ISU finished the half with a 7-0 run of its own to lead 36-31 at the break.

The avoidance of turnovers couldn’t be sustained in the second half. ISU gave the ball away on its first two possessions of the half and the Bears turned both into buckets on their own end to tie the game just 90 seconds into the second half.

“I thought that was the biggest turning point. You can live with them making some shots, but the start of the second half hurt us with our turnovers,” Lansing said.

From there, it was a dogfight into the final minute. Missouri State led for most of the second half, and enjoyed a 56-52 lead at the 8:21 mark, but ISU always came up with a bucket or a defensive stop to stay in the game. The Sycamores tied the game at 61 with 4:58 left on a Lathan breakaway layup after he had stolen the ball from Jermaine Mallett.

ISU would not score on its next four possessions. In each case, Missouri State ratcheted up its defensive pressure and forced ISU into bad shots or quick attempts near the end of the shot clock. The Bears weren’t doing much on their end either — a pair of Leonard free throws at 2:12 gave the Bears a tenuous 63-61 lead.

Missouri State’s biggest shot of the game came with 1:19 left. Creekmore, who had ISU’s full defensive attention, dished to Leonard on the right wing. ISU’s help defense was a second too late to get to Leonard who buried a 3-pointer to put Missouri State up 66-61.

Aaron Carter responded with a contested 3-pointer at 1:04 to cut ISU’s deficit to 66-64. The Sycamores got a defensive stop on the Bears’ next possession and had the ball with 28 seconds left with a chance to take the lead or tie the game.

Odum had the ball and a lane opened up in transition on the right side for Odum to exploit. He went to the basket, but attempted to pass it to Richard in the lane on his drive. Richard wasn’t ready for the pass and Leonard scooped it up.

Leonard eventually got the ball to Mallett in transition, who was intentionally fouled by Walker with 17.3 seconds left. Mallett made both free throws and Nathan Scheer made another on the Bears’ possession from the intentional foul to take a 69-64 lead.

Odum made a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds left to make it 69-66, but a foul was called on Richard on the Missouri State inbounds pass. It appeared Richard had simply become tangled up with Kyle Weems on the play and that they tripped over one another, but Weems took advantage of the call and made a pair of free throws to put the Bears up 71-66. ISU would not get within a possession the rest of the way.

ISU (12-12, 7-6) next plays at Illinois State on Wednesday.

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