SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State Bears used a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds from reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Kyle Weems to a 63-51 win over the University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team on Saturday in JQH Arena.
UNI (14-9 overall, 4-7 MVC) saw Seth Tuttle lead the way with nine points and Matt Morrison chip in with eight points off the bench.
MSU (13-10 overall, 6-5 MVC) got 20 points from Weems, 18 of which came in the first half. MSU's Anthony Downing scored 16 points and Jarmar Gulley contributed with nine points and 10 rebounds.
"We needed to defend Weems better in the first half and rebound," UNI head coach Ben Jacobson said. "Most nights we defend well and rebound, but we didn't do that in the first half. We need to get better again. The last eight to 10 days we haven't made the improvements we need to make."
UNI began the game on a 9-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from junior guard Marc Sonnen with 16:21 left in the first half. MSU answered with a 20-3 run to take a 23-12 lead with 8:27 left in the opening stanza.
MSU led 26-13 following Kyle Weems' third 3-pointer of the half. But UNI responded with a 9-3 run to cut the margin to 28-22 with 3:10 left in the half following a steal and layup by Mitchell.
The Bears closed the half on a 6-2 run over the final 3:10 to take a 34-24 lead into the intermission. Weems poured in a game-high 18 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor. Weems was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point land in the first half.
MSU scored the first five points of the second half to open up its biggest lead of the game at 39-24 with 17:36 left in the game. UNI clawed back to within 39-30 after a 6-0 run that was capped by a Deon Mitchell free throw.
However, the Bears mounted a 10-2 spurt and took a 49-32 lead over the Panthers with 8:49 left in the game.
MSU's biggest lead of 18 points came with 4:52 left in the game when the Bears led 57-39.
UNI will return home to play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis on Tues., Jan. 31, in the McLeod Center. Tip for the Salukis-Panthers game is set for 7 p.m.
NOTES: UNI's Marc Sonnen made a 3-pointer in his 17th straight game ... the loss was UNI's first in JQH Arena after having won its previous three encounters in the four-year old building ... UNI grabbed 10 offensive rebounds against the Bears.