CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Freshman Austin Ruder scored 19 points to lead Missouri State to a stunning 73-67 win over Texas A&M Friday night in the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Challenge.
Missouri State (6-0) used a 13-3 run to grab a 46-42 lead with 10:49 left. Ruder sparked the run, completing 2 four-point plays in addition to another 3-pointer. Antwan Space hit a jumper to get Texas A&M (6-1) back on track.Ruder drilled another 3-pointer to give the Bears a 51-46 lead, but Jordan Green responded with a three-point play.The two teams traded buckets down the stretch.Texas A&M's Kourtney Roberson finished a three-point play to cut the lead to 57-56, but Christian Kirk responded with a three-point play of his own, slamming home a dunk after the Bears' almost lost possession.Emmanuel Addo hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 63-59, but Roberson answered with another three-point play.The Aggies found an open Green in the corner with 1:29 left, but he missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer. Dorian Williams got a layup on the other end, giving the Bears a 5-point cushion with a minute to play.Missouri State went 6 of 6 from the line down the stretch, icing the game. Williams finished with 12 points while Addo scored 11. Jarmar Gulley scored 12 points to go along with five steals.Roberson led the Aggies with 16 points, and Green added 13.Missouri State overcame an ice-cold shooting performance in the first half. The Bears hit just 7 of 30 shots from the field, including 3 of 13 from 3-point range. The Aggies couldn't take advantage and only led 29-24 at half time.The Bears found their touch in the second half, Ruder especially. He scored 16 of his game-high 19 in the second half. He was also the only Missouri State player to connect on more than one 3-point attempt.His scoring barrage in the middle of the half gave Missouri State a lead they would never give up despite constant threat. Texas A&M cut the lead to one or two points eight different times but could not grab the lead.The Aggies dominated the paint, holding a 46-22 advantage. However, they couldn't get their outside game going. The team finished a woeful 2 of 16 from 3-point range.Missouri State also capitalized more on mistakes, scoring 21 of their points off turnovers while the Aggies only mustered 8.Missouri State will meet Virginia in the tournament final, and Texas A&M will play SMU in the third-place game.