Marcus Marshall and Dorian Williams combined to score 22 points as Missouri State nursed a shrinking 11-point first-half lead into a 53-50 win over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both schools Wednesday night.
Loomis Gerring scored on a jumper in the paint barely 90 seconds into the game to give Missouri State a lead it did not relinquish. Marshall's 3-pointer with a second left in the half pushed the margin to 11 points, 26-15.
The Bears (7-6, 1-0) pushed the lead to as many as 16 points twice in the second half. The Salukis (7-7, 0-1) rallied but got no closer than three points down the stretch.
Marshall finished with 12 points and Williams added 10 more as Missouri State shot 40.4 percent from the field (19 of 47) while the defense checked Illinois State field goal shooting to 33.3 percent on 12 of 36 attempts.