SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri State Bears are as close to playing their best basketball as ever this season and not a moment too soon.
The Bears beat Loyola-Chicago 74-62 on Saturday, improving their chance at a direct ticket to the Missouri Valley Tournament quarterfinals.
The Ramblers (19-10, 11-5) entered the day with a share of the conference lead.
Keandre Cook, who entered from the bench for the sixth straight game, led the Bears (14-15, 8-8) in scoring with 21 points.
Gaige Prim, Isiaih Mosley and Josh Hall also scored in double figures for the Bears, with Prim nearly getting a double-double.
Missouri State jumped out to a 9-0 lead and nurtured it to an 18 point lead at halftime.
Arch Madness continues to draw near. The Bears are in a three-way tie for sixth with Drake and Valparaiso. Indiana State is a up one-half of a game as it will take on Evansville on Sunday.
The Bears will travel to meet the Crusaders on Tuesday in a game that will likely see the losing team head to the play-in round of the tournament.
“I mean I have always felt like we could beat anyone in our league,” Bears head coach Dana Ford said. “I think it’s easier when you have to play three games in three days instead of four in four days. But I don’t have any doubt in my mind that the team I am bringing to St. Louis can beat anybody that is there.”