Missouri State’s duo downs Drake in MVC play

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Anthony Downing and Keith Pickens combined to score 45 points, including 14 during a tide-turning 16-2 surge that lifted Missouri State to a 78-72 win over Drake in Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball Sunday.

Dowling matched his career high with 26 points and Pickens established a new career best with 19, with the duo netting 32 of their points in the second half. The duo helped the host Bears (6-15, 4-5) erase Drake’s 10-point lead and move in front for good against the team that knocked off No. 17-ranked Creighton on Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs (9-11, 3-5) could not score their fourth win in five games thanks to Missouri State’s sharpshooting. The Bears finished 27-for-48 from the field (56 percent), sparked by a 15-for-21 effort (71 percent) in the second half.

Drake led 55-47 before Pickens propeled the Bears to the front, scoring the first seven points of a 16-2 rally. Chris Hines accounted for the only Bulldog bucket during the 5-minute stretch, and Missouri State shot 8-for-12 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the win.

“It was a tough game and at the end, we didn’t have the ability to stop Anthony Downing,” said Drake coach Mark Phelps. “They were able to drive the ball, put fouls on us and get to the free-throw line. That was really the story of the game in the second half.”

Downing scored 18 of his 26 in the second half, and Pickens netted 14 of his 19 after the Bears went into the break with a 29-28 lead. Missouri State led by as many as 10 in the first half but Drake moved in front by the same margin, only to see the Bears score their seventh straight win in the series.

Ben Simons led Drake with 19 points, Micah Mason made five 3-pointers on his way to 17 points, and Seth VanDeest had 12 points and eight rebounds in the loss. Jordan Clark contributed nine points and 11 rebounds, but the Bulldogs could not match the hot-shooting Bears on this day.

Drake goes back out on the road Wednesday, visiting Southern Illinois for a 7:05 p.m. pairing in Carbondale, Ill.