No. 5 seed Indiana State made an MVC Tournament record 16 three-point baskets, escaping with a 94-91 quarterfinal round victory past No. 4 seed Belmont Friday afternoon.
The Sycamores, winning their second straight game, improved to 22-11 while advancing to the semifinal round of the MVC Tournament for the 11th time in school history and first since 2021. Indiana State will play top-seeded Bradley at 2:30 p.m. in the semifinal round Saturday.
Senior guard Cooper Neese enjoyed one of the finest shooting games in MVC Tournament action, scoring a season-high 33 points—just shy of his career best 35-point outburst at Evansville in 2022. He set an MVC Tournament record for most three-point baskets at nine, while matching a team record with nine 3-point baskets held by Marico Stinson against Drake Dec. 30, 2006.
Freshman forward Cade Tyson led the Bruins with his career-high 24 points and game-best seven rebounds. The Bruins, who had a two-game winning streak snapped, slipped to 21-11.
The record three-point basket by Neese with 1:26 left erased a 89-88 deficit giving Indiana State a 91-89 lead it didn’t relinquish. Keishawn Davidson missed two shots for Belmont in the final 54 seconds. Xavier Beldson made two free throws with 16.2 seconds left to extend Indiana State’s lead to 93-89. A layup by Tyson with 11.5 seconds left pulled the Bruins within 93-91. After Cameron Henry missed the front end of a bonus free throw with 10.8 seconds left, Davison missed a running jumper with one second remaining. Henry made one free throw with 0.1 left to account for the final score.
Neese is shooting 80 percent (16-20), including 86.7 percent (14-17) from three-point range, in two games in the MVC Tournament.
The 28 combined three-pointers (Indiana State 16, Belmont 14) between the two teams was an MVC Tournament record. The combined 185 points tied for second on the all-time MVC Tournament list for combined points with West Texas State beating New Mexico State, 98-87, in 1980.
This marked the 12th time the number 5 seed has advanced to the semifinal round of the MVC Tournament in games played in St. Louis, but first since 2019 when Bradley won the title.
The Sycamores also topped 90 points for the second consecutive MVC Tournament game and sixth time this year. The Sycamores dished out 20 assists, one day after setting a season record of 29 assists against Evansville.
Indiana State shot 50.8 (32-of-63, marking the 15th time shooting 50 percent or better this season. The Sycamores also shot a season-high 57.1 percent (16-28) from three-point range.
Henry set a career best with 25 points, including making 10-of-13 from the foul line. Graduate transfer forward Courvoisier McCauley, the 2023 MVC Newcomer of the Year, added 12 points after being held scoreless by Evansville in the MVC Tournament opener.
Senior guard Ben Sheppard scored 19, reaching the 600-point total on the season–603 total. Senior guard Keishawn Davison scored 18, hitting double digits for just the eighth time this season, but now fifth game in a row. Freshman Ja’Kobi Gillespie scored 14, along with a career-best eight assists.
Henry scored 18 points to spark Indiana State to a 49-44 halftime lead as the Sycamores shot 50 percent (17-34). There were six ties and two lead changes before Henry scored six straight points breaking a 34-34 tie to give the Sycamores a 40-34 lead.
The Sycamores continued torrid shooting in the second half with their first eight baskets all from three-point range in the opening 12 minutes. Neese drilled four straight three-point baskets in a 2:49 stretch early in the second half.