Alize Johnson tallied 24 points and 11 rebounds and Reggie Scurry scored a career-high 18 points as Missouri State (11-3, 1-0 MVC) earned a 64-59 win over Loyola to open conference play.
The Bears played like team chosen as preseason Valley favorites, and Johnson, the preseason Player of the Year, was the best player on the floor. He led the Bears with 11 first-half points, while Scurry scored 6 in seven minutes before the break.
Loyola opened the second half on a 7-0 run, as the Ramblers took the lead for the first time. They led for only four minutes Friday. Twice in the final minutes, Johnson connected on jumpers to extend the Bears’ lead after Loyola cut the lead to 1 point.
Scurry’s final bucket pushed the lead to 61-56 with 1:12 on the clock, all but putting it out of reach.
The Bears will play Saturday at Valparaiso for their first conference meeting with the Crusaders, who make their first trip through the Missouri Valley.