The story already seemed written at halftime. After all, Minnesota led Missouri State 44-31 at the half, and the Bears still looked like the anemic and disheartened squad that was blown out the day before by Butler and lost by 15 to Oral Roberts.
Even if the final chapter still resulted in a 74-69 loss and an 0-3 start, the Bears showed improvement as the match progressed, even bringing it within 3 with 18 seconds left in the game.
The difference was Obediah Church and Camyn Boone coming up big and showing a maturity of talent that hadn't existed in the first two games of the season.
Boone, a senior forward who is technically a bench player but might as well be a starter, led the Bears with 17 points. Boone's shot selection was much improved, displaying a nose for the basket that the Bears will desperately need if they're to look competent on offense moving forward. However, Church was the driving force behind the Bears' comeback as the freshman forward from Springfield, IL, took over in the paint with 15 points, a game leading 9 rebounds, and two blocks.
If Church is capable of emerging as the dynamic and bruising force he appeared to be in the last half of the game, it could go a long way in making up for Missouri State's significant shortage in height.
Ultimately, even with an improved offense late in the game, Minnesota's three point game was entirely undeterred by Missouri State's paper thin and sluggishly slow perimeter defense. Although MO State's Austin Ruder did manage to make four of his six three point shots, it was no answer to the Gophers' Joey King. King was 6 of 8 from the field, all of which went for three, putting him at 18 points to lead both squads.
Carlos Morris also provided the bulk of Minnesota's rebounds with 7, in addition to landing 12 points.
In the end, Missouri State still was an undersized squad that only has one more chance to leave Puerto Rico with a win. Although the Bears should win their next mainland match up with NAIA William Woods, the schedule doesn't get easier with games against Utah State, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, and Valparaiso looming.