BB 3.8 File photo

Sophomore Ja’Monta Black yells out to a teammate during the men’s game against Bradley University Saturday, Feb. 13 at JQH Arena. The Bears beat the Braves 80-58.

Missouri State’s basketball season came to an end on March 6 after losing 71-69 to Drake in the semifinal round of Arch Madness.

The game was close the entire time, but a shot in the final seconds by Drake sophomore Joseph Yesufu ended MSU’s hopes.

“It’s devastating going out that way,” junior guard Keaton Hervey said. “Definitely not what we envisioned, but at the end of the day, we got a close group and we’re going to stay solid and find our way through this.”

Season in Review

Missouri State finished as the No. 3 team in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 12-6 record after being predicted to finish sixth in the preseason poll.

Twelve wins in conference play was the best MVC record the Bears have had since 2010-11 — when they went 15-3 for a first-place finish.

The season was supposed to start at the end of November, but a COVID-19 quarantine shut down the Bears for most of their non-conference schedule. MVC play began on Dec. 27 at Northern Iowa, where the Bears won 79-59.

Missouri State continued to win most of their games, buoyed by sophomore guard Isiaih Mosley, who quickly became one of the nation’s best scorers. At one point he was second in the nation in points per game behind only Iowa’s Luke Garza. He won the MVC scoring title with 441 points and an average of 20 per game.

Senior forward Gaige Prim was MSU’s other leading scorer. Prim finished with 370 points, third in the MVC.

The Bears ran into trouble in a four-game stretch against Drake and Loyola Chicago, the two teams that finished higher than the Bears in the MVC standings. MSU lost all four of those games but rebounded after that to win seven of their final eight heading into the MVC tournament.

In the MVC awards, Prim and Mosley were named First Team All-MVC, junior guard Demarcus Sharp was named to the All Newcomer team and Mosley was named to the Most Improved team.

The MVC tournament opened with Missouri State defeating Valparaiso 66-55. It ended the next day for the Bears with the loss to Drake.

“I’ve enjoyed every day of coaching this group,” head coach Dana Ford said after the Drake loss. “Even today, I enjoy this adversity we just experienced. I’ll be anxious to see how we use it moving forward.”

Future outlook

Next season the Bears will likely return their entire roster as Prim is coming back for an extra year — as per the NCAA’s rules surrounding COVID-19. Junior forward Dawson Carper, who was injured most of the year, as well as freshman guard Lu’Cye Patterson and junior forward Nic Tata will all likely see expanded minutes, allowing Ford to increase his depth chart.

Joining the Bears will be Springfield Kickapoo star Isaac Haney, who recently moved to fourth all-time in career scoring in Missouri high school history.

The Bears will have tough company in the MVC, too. Drake is expected to return its entire roster, and Loyola Chicago could do the same.

“I am excited to coach this group of players,” Ford said. “I think they’re about the right things. We have so much room for improvement, and that is very exciting. I enjoy the type of people they are. We have a great opportunity next season.”

 

Follow Stephen Terrill on Twitter, @stevethe2nd

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