Senior Gaige Prim earned his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 16 points to go with a season-high 17 rebounds to lead Missouri State to a 67-58 victory past Valparaiso in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament Friday night at the Enterprise Center.
The Bears, winning their third straight game, improved to 23-9, while advancing to the semifinal for the third straight year. to meet the winner of the Drake-Southern Illinois game (played late Friday) in contest at 5:05 p.m. Saturday.
Valparaiso closed out the season with a 14-18 record, including three losses to Missouri State, failing to make the semifinals for the second year in a row.
This marked the 23rd time in the last 24 years (dating back to 1999) that the No. 2 seed has advanced to the semifinal round of the MVC Tournament. Prim’s 17 rebounds were the most by a player in the MVC this season and the most in a MVC Tournament game since Alize Johnson of Missouri State grabbed 19 against Valparaiso March 1, 2018.
Junior Isiaih Mosley scored 18 points to move into No. 4 on the school single season scoring list with 637, passing Mike Robinson (1979-80) who had 630. Mosley scored 11 points in the second half. Mosley also had four assists and three steals.
Junior Donovan Clay–who transferred from Valparaiso to Missouri State–had just seven total points in his previous two games against Valparaiso this year, scored 17 points—all in the first half. Clay scored the last 10 points (covering the final 3:20) of the half for Missouri State, helping stake the Bears to a 35-28 halftime lead.
The Beacons opened the game making their first five shots with forward Thomas Kithier tallying the first seven points for the Beacons. Clay responded with eight points to give Missouri State a 10-9 advantage and never relinquished it.
Kithier led the way for the Beacons by scoring 11 first-half points en route to a 17-point effort with seven boards. Sophomore Sheldon Edwards picked up a late rebound to earn his third double-double of the season, scoring 10 points with his 10 boards.
The Bears picked up where they left off to end the first half, scoring four points in the opening 45 seconds to force Valparaiso to call a timeout while enjoying its biggest lead at 39-28. Prim sparked a 7-0 run by scoring five points to push the Bears cushion to 50-39. Then Mosley took over scoring nine points in a 4:53 span (12:57-8:04) to propel the lead to 62-48 with 8:04 left. The Beacons pulled within 64-58 on a basket by Edwards with 3:12 left.
But Valparaiso missed four shots and committed two turnovers in its last four possessions to close out the game.
Missouri State made five three-point baskets to set a single-season school mark with 271 treys, breaking the previous record of 270 set by the 2016-17 squad.