Missouri State wins MVC Tournament opener

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Alize Johnson had 22 points, 19 rebounds and six assists to
help seventh-seeded Missouri State hold off No. 10 seed Valparaiso 83-79 in the
first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

Jarrid Rhodes, who totaled 20 points, and Ryan Kreklow, who finished with 11
points off the bench, made eight straight free throws in the final minute to
seal the win. Johnson had his 20th double-double of the season.

Missouri State (18-14) won the right to face against No. 2 seed Southern
Illinois (19-12) on Friday. Southern Illinois took an 81-80 overtime victory the
last time the teams met on Feb. 24. The Bears also lost the previous game 79-77.

Johnson started the scoring with a jumper and Missouri State never trailed,
taking a 39-33 lead into intermission. Johnson kicked off the second half with
two free throws and Jarred Dixon drained a trey for a 44-33 lead. Valparaiso
(15-17) closed to 75-72 after Jaume Sorolla completed a 3-point play with 1:46
left as the Bears went scoreless for almost four minutes. Tevonn Walker, who had
25 points, drained a 3 to cut the gap to 81-79 in the final seconds.

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