NORMAL, Ill. -- A 9-0 run late in the second half propelled Missouri State to a 68-59 road victory over Illinois State here Saturday, making MSU the first Missouri Valley Conference team with 20 Division I victories this season.
The Bears (20-6, 12-3 MVC) never trailed in the contest and responded to a flurry by the Redbirds following the under-eight-minute media timeout in the second half. A quick shot by John Wilkins brought ISU back with 49-46 with 7:48 to play, but that's when MSU got going.
Will Creekmore scored four points, Adam Leonard knocked down a three-pointer, and Nathan Scheer scored a layup on a no-look pass from Creekmore during a four-minute stretch that build Missouri State's advantage to 58-46.
The Redbirds climbed back within 64-57 with just under a minute to play on a three-pointer by Austin Hill, but the Bears got a pair of free throws by Kyle Weems and a dunk by Creekmore in the final minute to claim the win.
Weems finished with a team-high 21 for Missouri State, which shot 65 percent from the field in the second half in helping his club claim its sixth MVC road win of the year. Creekmore added 16 points on a perfect night of shooting, including 6-of-6 from the field, while Nafis Ricks added 12 with 3 assists and a pair of steals.
Hill was everywhere for ISU (11-15, 3-12), going 10-for-17 from the field with a three and 2-for-2 effort at the line. He finished with a game-high 23 points, while Tony Lewis added 9 points and a game-high 8 boards.
The Bears finished 20-for-44 (.455) from the field and 7-of-16 (.438) from three-point range and a 21-for-28 (.750) effort at the line. MSU was out-rebounded 36-28, allowing 15 ISU offensive boards, but had just three of its nine turnovers in the second half.
ISU was 22-for-53 (.415) from the field, 3-for-14 (.214) from beyond the arc and 12-for-19 (.632) at the line. The Redbirds dropped their fourth game in a row, but outscored MSU in the paint 30-24 and off the bench, 40-7.
MSU won its third game in a row and ensured at least a share of the MVC lead headed into Tuesday night's home game against Drake. The Bears pulled a half game ahead of Wichita State which is playing the late Saturday game at Northern Iowa in search of its 21st overall win and 20th against Division I clubs.
The Bears have won 20 games for the second straight season for the first time since 2006-07.