By: Sammy Stava
n the last game of Quarterfinal Friday, third seeded Indiana State took on sixth seeded Missouri State for some late night basketball at Enterprise Center. With the way this MVC Tournament has gone, the better seed should better watch out.
The Sycamores came into Arch Madness with plenty of momentum, having won four in a row to end the regular season. Missouri State was picked to finish in first place in the preseason poll, but the Dana Ford’s Bears have had an up-and-down season, struggling to find some consistency. This was Missouri State’s last chance to live up to their preseason expectations.
At the coaches’ luncheon on Thursday afternoon, Indiana state head coach Greg Lansing said that Missouri State was picked to finish in first place in the preseason for a reason.
For the first 20 minutes, Missouri State showed that was still a good reason as the Bears jumped out to a 34-24 halftime lead. Junior forward Gaige Prim and senior forward Lamont West stepped up big with 10 points each.
Missouri State got the lead up to 18 at 48-30 with 15:00 remaining, and then Indiana State went on a mini 7-0 run to cut it to 11. The Sycamores never threatened again, as the Bears took full control – easing to a 78-51 victory.
“I thought we came out in both halves and took it one possession at a time and tried to play together as much as we can on both ends,” – head coach Dana Ford said of his team’s performance.
Gaige Prim led Missouri State with a team-high 17 points on the night. “It’s really important to get on a roll, start early,” – Prim said. And that’s exactly what the Bears did on Friday to get the win. “I think this win helps us a lot going in the right direction. So we’ve just got to keep it going.”
The Bears are looking to keep it going as they advance to Semifinal Saturday in a date with No. 7 seeded Valparaiso at 5:00. For the first time since 2017, Missouri State is in the MVC Semifinals.
And Missouri State’s win was the end of a wild Quarterfinal Friday as the top three seeds have all been eliminated. The fourth seeded Bradley Braves is now the best seed remaining. It’s really true now, this is anybody’s tournament. Buckle up for a wild ride at Arch Madness’ Semifinal Saturday.