The Missouri State men’s basketball team remains in the battle for the Missouri Valley Conference title after a 65-57 loss to Illinois State.
“I thought our guys were fantastic,” head coach Dana Ford told Art Hains on KTXR after the game. “We just came up a little bit short tonight.”
Illinois State won the battle to the end of the first half. The Redbirds took a 25-24 lead into the locker rooms. Juniors Keandre Cook and Tulio Da Silva led the way for the Bears at halftime with eight points apiece.
“I was extremely proud of our effort going into halftime, how we fought back,” Ford said on KTXR.
Illinois State pulled away early in the second half, taking the first double-digit lead of the game with 13:05 to play.
The Bears tried to rally, closing in as close as three, but Illinois State held on to the lead for the rest of the game.
Cook finished with 16 points, and senior Jarred Dixon finished with 15. Da Silva recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
ISU’s Milik Yarbrough scored the Redbirds’ final 10 points. Yarbrough was 11-11 from the free-throw line, scoring 28 total points.
“If we just don’t send people to the free-throw line, what we are doing is going to work, and that was the case tonight,” Ford said on KTXR. “In some of our closer wins, people just haven’t gone to the free-throw line, and tonight we gave them 21 freebies.”
The Bears will return home for their final game of the regular season against Drake on Saturday, March 2.