ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands–For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Missouri State men’s basketball team captured an in-season tournament.
The Bears (4-1) won all three of their games in the Paradise Jam Tournament, including an 87-69 statement win over Abilene Christian in the championship contest.
MSU shot a staggering 58 percent from the floor for the entire game, including knocking down 65 percent of their looks in the second half.
Donovan Clay and Matthew Lee earned All-Tournament team honors, with Lee being named Tournament MVP. But it was the stellar play of NJ Benson that sparked the dominant performance from Dana Ford’s team.
By hafltime, Benson had already accumulated a double-double, which helped Mo-State rally from a 10-point deficit, to take a 45-37 edge into intermission.
At the end of the game, Benson totaled 17 points and set a career-high with 16 rebounds. All while coming off the bench.
Chance Moore also made a significant impact from off the bench. He equaled Benson’s 17 points, but it was his second three pointer of the game – coming with just over four minutes to go in the first half that broke a 35-35 tie – that gave the Bears the lead for good.
Alston Mason had a bounce back performance to lead all MSU players with 21 points. A welcomed sight, after not making a single bucket in the team’s narrow second round victory against Kent State.
This is the first in-season tournament win for the Missouri State men’s program since it won the Hispanic College Fund Classic in 2009-10.
Monday’s championship victory also marked career win number 150 for Head Coach Dana Ford.