Dequon Miller had 17 points, Alize Johnson had a double-double and Missouri State held on to defeat Northern Iowa 68-64 in the Missouri Valley Conference opener Wednesday night after almost squandering a 24-point lead.
The Bears (10-4) had a 19-0 run and raced to a 32-8 lead at the 6:47 mark of the first half, capped by Ronnie Rousseau III’s 3-pointer, their eighth to that point. Miller had three, Johnson and Ryan Kreklow two each. The Panthers got the deficit down to 39-22 at halftime.
But after shooting 32 percent in the first half, Northern Iowa shot 57 in the second, went 16 of 20 from the foul line and forced 11 early turnovers. The margin was 22 with 14 minutes left but a 15-2 run cut it to 55-46 with 9:16 left. Eventually a pair of layups by Jeremy Morgan made it a two-point game twice in the final 20 seconds before two free throws by Kreklow iced it with three seconds left.
Kreklow had 13 points and Johnson 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears, who finished 10 of 11 from the line and 12 of 22 from 3-point range, five by Miller.
Morgan had 16 of his 28 in the second half, giving him 999 points in his career. Koch had 16 points as the Panthers finished 20 of 26 from the line, 4 of 15 behind the arc.