SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri State Bears had a lot to play for on Saturday, and left the arena all smiles.
Missouri State beat Southern Illinois 84-59, the fourth straight home win for the Bears.
The win will likely mean the Bears (15-16, 9-9) will finish sixth in the Missouri Valley standings. It won’t be confirmed until the NET rankings are released Sunday morning, followed by the official Arch Madness bracket.
All five seniors started for MSU and all five had major contributions. Kabir Mohammed scored a career-high 15 points to lead all Bears scorers.
Fellow seniors Keandre Cook (13 points), Tulio Da Silva (13 points), Lamont West (11 points) and Ross Owens (9 points) all made sure their final home game would be a memorable one.
“It feels good knowing that we went out on the right note with a big win today,” Owens said. “Like you said, we are ready for Arch Madness and we are playing as well as anybody, so anything can happen in those three days. “
The Bears picked up at least one win against every conference team except UNI and Bradley, adding another layer of confidence.
“Last year I think the 5-6 played for it all,” Bears head coach Dana Ford said. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t believe in my guys, I think they are good.”
Lance Jones kept the Salukis (16-15, 10-8) in it for much of the first half, finishing the games with 28 points. Trent Brown was the only other SIU player in double figures.
It is expected the Bears will take on Indiana State in the Arch Madness quarterfinals on Friday at 8:35 pm.