The Bears ended a two-game losing streak, improved to 18-6 overall and 10-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference and remain one game back of Wichita State in the conference standings.
"Time is running out to accomplish the goal we set at the beginning of the season," center Will Creekmore said. "It's a sense of urgency. We're not gonna let this season fall apart."
Indiana State tied the game at 61 on Dwayne Lathan's basket with five minutes left. The teams went nearly three minutes without scoring until the Bears' Adam Leonard made two free throws with 2:12 left to break the tie.
Leonard followed with his fifth 3-pointer of the game, with 1:18 remaining, to expand the lead to five. Leonard's steal off a pass by Jake Odum with 20 seconds to go clinch the victory.
"I try to tell my young guys: 'You can't give them anything easy, because they're not going to give you one,'" said Indiana State Head Coach Greg Lansing. "Every team in our league, if you can get easy baskets, that's tremendous. That's a big-time bonus, because teams that are well-coached and compete on the defensive end aren't going to give you an easy one -- you're going to have to take and make a tough shot. It's no different here with Zo (Cuonzo Martin) and his team."
The Bears trailed 36-31 at halftime but started the second half on a 7-2 run to tie the game, and it was a back-and-fourth contest from there with seven ties and eight lead changes.
"I don't think we're as tough as we need to be," said Missouri State Head Coach Cuonzo Martin. "Hopefully, in the future we can get a lot tougher with personnel. I'd like for us to be really, really tough and really physical. I like to hold teams in the 50s, if we can do it defensive wise, and I think we're on pace at getting that as far as a program. (But) 60s and 70s, that's too many points."
The Bears' defense increased the pressure in the second half, picking up six steals and forcing 10 turnovers.
When asked what they did different on defense in the second half?
"Pride," said the Bears' Kyle Weems,. "Just guarding your own man, doing your job."
Leonard led the Bears in scoring with 19 points. Creekmore added 16 points. Weems chipped in 13 points. Nafis Ricks contributed 11 points. Jermaine Mallett tallied 10 points. Nick Valla recorded 3 points, and Nathan Scheer notched 1 point.
The Bears will be in action on Wednesday against Bradley. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for the Bradley game are available at MissouriStateBears.com or by calling 417-836-7678. All fans bringing a canned food item to the game Wednesday will receive 5 percent off for each can they bring -- up to 25 percent -- at the MSU Team Store at JQH Arena. The food drive will support the Ozarks Food Harvest food pantry.