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Missouri State rally spoils EIU's opener

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Even when leading at halftime, Eastern Illinois coach Jay Spoonhour drew laughs and applause from Missouri State fans.

“Just who y'all wanted to hear from right now, right?” Spoonhour said.

Another part of this halftime speech when his late father Charlie Spoonhour had a banner retired at JHQ Arena: “I'll be very short here because our team is devising their own game plan right now,” Jay Spoonhour said.

While that was just a joke, Missouri State found its winning plan.

That mainly consisted of guard Marcus Marshall, who scored 38 points leading the Bears to Friday's season-opening 64-53 come-from-behind season-opening men's basketball win over EIU at the JHQ Arena.

Marshall hit 12 of 16 shots, including six of seven usually contested 3-point shots in the most points scored by a Bear in a game since 1979.

After leading 51-50 with 6:08 remaining the Panthers went scoreless for the next five minutes, 19 seconds when Missouri State scored 12 straight points.

Chris Olivier scored 16 points but just two in the second half for EIU, which shot just .391 from the field, 9-for-23, after leading 29-27 at halftime.

No other Panther scored more than six points.

“I thought overall we played a pretty solid game in a tough place to play,” Spoonhour said. “They did the stuff at the end in particular Marcus Marshall. Marshall will get the credit but they gog big rebounds from (Camyn) Boone, some really big offensive rebounds.”

Scoring the first five points of the game, EIU led until 6:43 remained when Christian Kirk's jumper in the lane gave Missouri State a 50-49 edge.

Reggie Smith's two free throws put the Panthers ahead again momentarily but Marcus Marshall's fifth 3-pointer of the night in his sixth try regained the Missouri State lead.

Then EIU's Chris Olivier, who had 14 points in the first half, appeared to have suffered a leg cramp causing a missed layup and after being fouled in transition Kirk's two free throws widened Missouri State's lead to 57-51.

EIU had some answers for Missouri State, which cut what had been an 11-point deficit in the first half to 34-33 with 17:46 remaining.

The Bears had the chance to take their first lead of the game but had a lob pass go out of bounds.

EIU freshman guard Cornell “Lil T” Johnston responded with a 3-pointer from the left corner, and the Panthers expanded their lead to 44-35 with 14:05 remaining.

Missouri State blocked two shots on one EIU possession keeping the Panthers from making it a double-digit lead and Camyn Boone got a fastbreak putback basket for the Bears to slow EIU's momentum.

The Panthers still had a 49-40 lead after Dylan Chatman's 3-pointer was followed by Tre Anderson's fastbreak basket with 11:38 to go.

But Missouri State had the final say on the night the visiting coach got to speak at halftime.

The former Missouri Valley Conference player Olivier who transferred from Northern Iowa to EIU where he played the second half of last season, was the early show.

The 6-foot-8 junior scored on post-up moves, a running hook and a turnaround jumper from the foul line.

Olivier helped EIU take a an 18-7 lead 12 minutes, 19 seconds into the game and by halftime had 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

But eventually, the 2013 Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year Marshall of Missouri State took the spotlight.

Marshall also was 7-for-9 from the field in the first half but three of his baskets were 3-pointers, a couple of them with defenders in his face, as the 6-3 junior had 18 points by halftime with the Bears cutting their deficit to 29-27.

Then came the halftime dedication for Charlie Spoonhour, who coached what was then called Southwest Missouri to five NCAA tournament berths during hiss 1983-92 tenure at the school.

Jay Spoonhour spent part of halftime participating in the ceremony with other members of the family.

“I've talked about him a hundred times and I've never choked up,” the EIU coach said this time showing some emotion at halftime. “I guess no better place than this to do it.”

Spoonhour put things in perspective after the game.

“I'd like a better outcome,” he said. “Our guys are feeling bad and you shouldn't be happy after a loss but there are some things we can build on.”

EIU's home opener is 7 p.m. Monday against Eureka at Lantz Arena.

Contact Nielsen at bnielsen@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6856.

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