No. 3 seed Southern Illinois reeled off 13 straight points late in the game, then held off No. 6 seed Missouri State to claim a 54-51 victory in the quarterfinal round of State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Friday night at the Enterprise Center.
The Salukis, winning their third straight game, improved their season record to 23-9 and will face No. 2 seed Drake in a 5 p.m. semifinal round game Saturday. Top-seeded Bradley will play No. 5 seed Indiana State in a 2:30 p.m. match.
This marked the third year in a row that the top three seeds have advanced to the MVC semifinal round.
Senior forward Marcus Domask scored a team-high 17 points, including nine in the second half, to key Southern Illinois.
Senior swingman Donovan Clay guided the Missouri State offensive attack with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting despite missing more than 12 minutes of action in the first half due to foul trouble The Bears, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, fell to 18-15.
Trailing 45-39, the Salukis countered with a 13-0 surge to enjoy its biggest lead of the game at 52-45.
Consecutive baskets by Clay cut the deficit to 52-49 with 1:02 left. A basket by Jonathan Mogbo off his own steal chopped the lead down to 52-51 with 30 seconds left. Domask was fouled with 21 seconds left, making two free throws to increase the Salukis’ lead to 54-51.
A last-ditch attempt by Missouri State to send the game into overtime failed Kendle Moore missed a three-point jumper from the right wing with three seconds left.
The Southern Illinois defense limited the Bears to six points in the final 9:06 of play.
Domask became just the second SIU player to collect 1,600 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in his career (along with Darren Brooks). He also added a team-high four assists to move him to eighth all-time at SIU with 354.
Senior guard Xavier Johnson scored 13 points, including nine in the second half, for Southern Illinois. Sophomore forward Troy D’Amico had 10 points, including seven in the first half. Senior guard Lance Jones, the second leading scorer for SIU, averaging 14 ppg coming in, had just three points, going 1-for-11 from the field.
Missouri State shot 38.5 percent from the field for the game, but made only 4-of-18 3-point attempts. In the second half, the Bears failed to make a 3-pointer in eight attempts. The Bears also were hurt by 17 turnovers after making just six turnovers in the MVC opener against Illinois-Chicago.
Sophomore guard Chance Moore collected 10 points and seven rebounds for Missouri State.