Feb. 25, 2015
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SPRINGFIELD - Missouri State (11-18, 5-12 MVC) rallied from a seven-point deficit in the game's second overtime to clip visiting Bradley, 80-77, here Wednesday in a triple-overtime thriller on Senior Night at JQH Arena.
MSU's lone senior, Christian Kirk, finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, but it was sophomore Austin Ruder who sparked the comeback. Ruder finished with 20 points behind five 3-pointers, including a clutch trey from the right corner to tie the game, 69-69, with 5.1 seconds left in the second overtime.
Ruder then opened up the third overtime with a trey to make it 72-69 before fouling out less than a minute later.
Bradley (8-22, 3-14) regrouped and regained the lead briefly with free throws by Warren Jones and Josh Cunningham. Cunningham, who finished with 15 points and a JQH Arena record 21 rebounds, pushed the Braves ahead 73-72 with 2:28 left in the third extra period.
But after Loomis Gerring tied the game near the 2-minute mark with a free throw, Shawn Roundtree, Jr., turned the tides for good, stripping the ball from Ka'Darryl Bell and racing to the rim for a layup and one to give MSU a 76-73 advantage with 1:53 to go.
After an MSU defensive stop on Bradley's next possession, Cunningham drew the visitors to within 76-75 with a dunk in the final 26 seconds before Chris Kendrix and Gerring iced the win with four unanswered free throws to secure the win.
Kendrix finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds to go with a JQH Arena record 55 minutes played.
The Bears finished with eight 3-pointers for the night, their most since Dec. 17, and finished 8-of-27 (.296) from bonus distance to go with a .431 (28-for-65) overall performance from the field. Missouri State snagged 43 rebounds to help overcome a season-high 19 turnovers and went just 7-of-13 from the foul line in the three overtime periods.
Bradley, which also got 20 points from Tramique Sutherland and 12 from Jones, pulled down 46 rebounds with 14 turnovers. The Braves dropped their fifth straight and finished 28-of-71 (.394) from the field, 2-of-18 (.111) from long range and 19-of-31 (.613) at the line.
The longest game ever at JQH Arena was Missouri State's longest since a four-overtime win at Kansas State on Dec. 8, 1987. In its history, MSU had never played beyond double overtime at home, but lost previous triple-overtime road games at Valparaiso (Jan. 28, 1985) and Illinois State (Feb. 17, 1970).
After shooting an even 50-percent in the first half to lead 32-23 at the break and by as many as 14 in the opening stanza, Missouri State made just 5-of-21 (.238) shots in the second half. With the door of opportunity opened for it, Bradley outscored MSU by a 27-18 margin in the second 20 minutes of action while shooting 48 percent from the field to push overtime.
After Sutherland tied the game, 50-50, on a layup with 20.3 seconds to go in regulation, Missouri State set up the potential winning play on its final possession, but Dorrian Williams ran into traffic and turned the ball over to force extended play.
The Bears never led in the first overtime period, but got game-tying buckets on a floater by Williams, a 3-pointer by Ruder and a layup by Kirk with 55 seconds left to make it a 58-58 contest.
Missouri State had the final possession of the first overtime after a blocked shot by Kendrix, but Gerring couldn't find the mark on a 3-point attempt as time expired.
In the second OT, Bradley scored the first 7 points to lead 65-58 before 3-pointers by Ruder and Gavin Thurman sandwiched a tip-in by Kirk as part of an 8-1 Bears' run in the span of 64 seconds to knot the game at 66. BU made 3 free throws in the final minute, but Ruder sprang loose for the game-tying shot in the right corner to force the third overtime.
The Bears, who finished their home season with an 8-6 mark at The Q, close out the regular season Saturday at Loyola Chicago (17-12, 7-10), starting at 3 p.m., on ESPN3. MSU will then travel to St. Louis, March 5-8 for the 2015 MVC Tournament at Scottrade Center in St. Louis where they will be the No. 8 seed and play either Bradley or Southern Illinois at 6 p.m., on March 5.