Missouri State runs past Louisiana Tech
SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State (22-12) forced 17 turnovers and
got 20 points from Adam Leonard to turn back visiting Louisiana
Tech, 69-40, in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament
quarterfinals here Monday.
Leonard broke the MSU single-season three-point record late in
the first half with his 95th of the season and extended his
total to 98 by game's end with six long-range shots on the
night. He finished 6-for-11 from beyond the arc, just one try
shy of the school single-game record.
The Bears extended a five-point halftime lead to double figures
less than four minutes into the second half, and the Bulldogs
(24-11) were never closer than seven the rest of the way. A
layup by Will Creekmore with 16:07 to go in the game put MSU up
38-28. La Tech cut its deficit to seven on a three-point play by
David Jackson two minutes later. However, Nafis Ricks -- who
earned his first start of the season -- knocked down a
three-pointer at the 13:27 mark to put the Bears back up by
double figures, 43-33.
The Bears ended the game on a 26-7 run and finished with 24
second-half rebounds. The final margin of victory was the
largest of the season for Missouri State which moved 10 games
over .500 for the first time since they were 13-3 on January 9.
Joining Leonard in double figures for Missouri State were Ricks
with 13 and Will Creekmore with 10. Creekmore also had a
game-high 10 rebounds to tally his third career double-double.
Justin Fuehrmeyer added a game-high five assists and four steals
for the Bears.
Missouri State fired at a 48-percent clip in the second half and
finished 22-for-58 (.379), including eight three-pointers. The
Bears were also 17-for-18 (.944) at the free throw line, their
second-best effort of the year. The Bears committed just nine
turnovers and outrebounded La Tech by a 40-31 margin.
Louisiana Tech was led by Jackson with 10 points and nine
rebounds, while Magnum Rolle added nine off the bench. The
Bulldogs, from the Western Athletic Conference, were 16-for-51
(.314) from the field with four threes.
La Tech ended a memorable campaign with four losses over its
last six games. Monday's loss matched its most-lopsided defeat
of the year after falling 81-52 at New Mexico on November 21.
Missouri State will host Missouri Valley Conference rival
Creighton on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in the CIT semifinals. The
Bluejays (18-15) were 73-55 winners over Fairfield in another
quarterfinal game Monday in Omaha.
Tickets for the game will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday by
calling (417) 836-7678. Missouri State students may begin
claiming free game tickets at that time at the MSU Athletics Box
Office at JQH Arena.
Pacific and Appalachian State will meet in the other semifinal.
The championship game will be hosted by the MSU-Creighton winner
on Tuesday, March 30 and will air live nationally on FOX College
Sports and the FOX Sports Regional family of networks.
In the first half, Leonard notched 11 points and scored knocked
down three treys to help the Bears to a 28-23 advantage at the
break. The spirited first period saw both teams pushing the ball
up the floor, but accuracy was not a strength for either club in
the early going. After the Bears jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the
first three minutes, they went six-and-a-half minutes without a
point while the visiting Bulldogs climbed ahead 7-5.
Kyle Weems tied the game at the 10:40 mark on a pair of free
throws, taking advantage of one of just two personal fouls
called on La Tech in the first period. Back-to-back
three-pointers by Fuehrmeyer and Leonard built MSU's lead to
19-12 with six minutes to go in the period, its biggest of the
half. Leonard then broke the MSU single-season three-point
record with 21 seconds to go in the opening half to put the
Bears up by five at the intermission.
Leonard, the MVC Newcomer of the Year, surpassed Blake Ahearn
(2006-07) and Johnny Murdock (1992-93) who each hit 94 threes in
their respective record-setting campaigns. Leonard's personal
season high of 104 came during his freshman season at Eastern