SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State opened the second half on a 13-6 run and never looked back in a 58-48 win over Air Force at JQH Arena on Saturday in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series.
The Bears trailed 28-27 at the half, but stormed back to tie the game early in the second stanza on a three-pointer by Kyle Weems after the Falcons scored the first basket of the second period. After the fifth tie of the game at the 16:04 mark of the second half, Weems would hit his fifth trey of the game to give the Bears a 37-34 advantage, and Missouri State would never trail again.
Weems' fifth three-pointer matched a career high, while his game-high 19 points helped the Bears improve to 7-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
The Bears would reel off 11 of the game's next 15 points to build a 48-38 lead on a jumper by Jermaine Mallet with 8:49 to go. Adam Leonard would make Missouri State's last two field goals of the night, both three-pointers, down the stretch, and the Bears helped their conference tie the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series, two games apiece.
The second half comeback by the Bears followed a valiant run by the Falcons (4-2) who found themselves behind 15-4 less than five minutes into the ball game. Grant Parker paced a feverish comeback by the visitors, finishing the first 20 minutes with 12 points, including 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
AFA's deliberate offense worked to perfection as it outscored Missouri State 24-12 over the final 15:45 of the first half, frequently running the shot clock down to its final ticks before drawing a foul or finding an easy bucket. The Bears were called for 10 of the 13 fouls called in the first half, which led to the Falcons scoring 11 of their 28 first-half points at the line.
Just before the break, the Bears recaptured the lead briefly on a put-back by Michael Porter at the 1:28 mark, but Parker got to the line again before the half to give AFA a brief advantage, 28-27.
However, in the second half, Cuonzo Martin's team stepped up its defensive pressure, forcing 12 turnovers and holding Air Force to just six field goals in the half.
Meanwhile, the Bears got to the free throw line 13 times in the second period, making 10.