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Missouri State v Eastern Illinois: Bears Win Behind Marcus Marshall

Eastern Illinois jumped to an early lead and kept it for most the game, until the Bears' defense clamped down and Marcus Marshall blew it up.

This is a picture of Christian Kirk (Sr-F/C) blocking a shot. It is not from this game, and is not against Eastern Illinois.
This is a picture of Christian Kirk (Sr-F/C) blocking a shot. It is not from this game, and is not against Eastern Illinois.
Peter Aiken

The story going in was honoring Charlie Spoonhour, former (Southwest) Missouri State Bears coach, as well as his family. When his son, Eastern Illinois Coach Jay Spoonhour, spoke at halftime he said that in 100 times talking about his father he had never choked up before, just as he was fighting back tears.

The story walking out of JQH arena was junior guard Marcus Marshall scoring 38 in Missouri State's 64-53 victory over the Eastern Illinois Panthers, a product of 6 three pointers and a perfect day from the free throw line.

As with many games, the final line doesn't reflect how the competitive, grinding game really happened. Eastern Illinois jumped out to an early lead that they expanded to 11 in the first half. The Panthers had their way with the Missouri State defense and any Bear whose both initials weren't "M" could hardly find the bucket.

Fortunately for the Bears, Marshall's hot hand kept them close going into halftime with only a 29-27 deficit. Eastern Illinois would charge back in the first nine minutes of the second half to up their lead to 49-40 due to stingy defense and Missouri State's penchant to put the ball in the Panthers' hands.

Then it happened. Christian Kirk (Sr-F/C) blocked two shots on one play. EIU's Chris Olivier (Jr-F) had been tormenting the Bears the entire night to the tune of a team high 16 points on .615 shooting, but Kirk locked down and the rest of the defense clicked around him. Missouri State stopped allowing the easy buckets and wide open threes, and Marshall continued to score.

Kirk, who had done little on offense beforehand, also started taking shots and ended up second in points for MO State with 8 total. Yes, Marcus Marshall had 30 more points than the next highest scoring Bear.

At the end of the game, Missouri State Head Coach Paul Lusk gave credit to the Panthers' experienced starting five who clearly knew their game plan coming into the game. He added that his own team had the talent to be significantly better than last season, but that with a lot of inexperience on the team it may take a while for them to "gel" and put it all together.

JUCO transfer Camyn Boone (Jr-PF) led the Bears in rebounds with nine on the night, making up for hitting only one of his five field goal attempts and two of his five free throws. The overall rebound battle was barely won by MO State, 27-26.

Other Notes:

Chris Olivier's great first half cannot be overstated. His 16 points came entirely from the field on 8 baskets out of 13 shots and no free throw attempts. He also tied for the team lead in rebounds at five. His only fault, perhaps, was committing four personal fouls, which prevented him from seeing too much of the floor in the second half

When Charlie Spoonhour was coach for the Bears, what was then Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU) was a conference rival with Eastern Illinois in the Mid Continent Conference, which is now the Summit League.

Under Charie Spoonhour, SMSU's former basketball stadium was nicknamed "Spoon's Temple of Doom." It is recommended that EIU do the same.

Marcus Marshall's 38 points were the most for a Bear since 1979.