Isiaih Mosley shown from a game earlier this season. (Photo by Missouri State athletics)

NORMAN, Okla. — The National Invitation Tournament has a unique distinction. It’s the only postseason event that features a 32-team field with all of them coming off a disappointing loss. That didn’t seem to hang over Missouri State on Monday night against Oklahoma.

The issue was what you figured it would be when a Missouri Valley Conference team goes on the road to face a Big 12 team late in the year.

“It’s very hard,” Missouri State senior center Gaige Prim said. “You have to come in with the right mindset and I thought we did. They just had a little more energy than we did.”

That was evident in the second half when the Bears gradually wilted away in an 89-72 loss to the Sooners.

It had just been 10 days since the Bears’ 79-78 overtime loss to Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinals ended their hopes of a bid to the Big Dance. There was ample time for them to focus. The Sooners (19-15) were the wild card in the equation. They were one of the last teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Their psyche was unpredictable.

For a half, Missouri State offered hope the season wasn’t on its last breath. Playing in its first post-season game in 11 seasons, and with a national television audience looking in via ESPN, the Bears traded blows with the Sooners. Isiaih Mosley scored 22 points in the first half, marking his fifth straight game with at least 18 to close the season.

But Oklahoma, the NIT’s No. 2 overall seed, pulled away in the second half. The Bears had a hard time getting Mosley open looks over the final 20 minutes. The junior guard did not score in the second half until 7:33 remained. He finished with 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. Mosley’s performance broke the Bears previous NIT scoring record held by Adam Leonard from the 2010-11 Bears squad.

“We’ve seen Isiaih do that all year long,” Missouri State Coach Dana Ford said. “He did a really good job in the first half. In the second half, they did a really good job on him. They made his catches a little harder. Probably sent help a little sooner. He did a solid job of taking care of the ball and getting to the right spots where he could get some clean looks.

“Ultimately, I think they were just a little bit deeper today and had a little more juice in the second half.”

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser was no stranger to the Bears. He arrived in Norman a year ago after a decade at Loyola Chicago. He even coached Ford for three seasons at Illinois State.

Moser didn’t take the Bears lightly. When asked what changed to limit Mosley’s production in the second half, Moser said: “I think at halftime they said, ‘You know what coach, you’re right. The kid is really good.'”

“He was hard to guard … There was more intention to stop him in the second half.”

The lead swayed 10 times in the first half. The Bears trailed 47-41 but had the game moving at a pace they preferred. But that changed in the second half. The Sooners’ Umoja Gibson matched Mosley with 28 points. He scored eight of those in a three-minute span early in the second half, allowing Oklahoma’s lead to grow to a dozen — 60-48 — with 14:45 left.

“A big part of our game plan was limiting his shots,” Ford said of Gibson. “He’s just so fast and it was a challenge for us. It would always seem to be a mismatch with the size of our backcourt and the size of their backcourt. We elected to play zone and he just got loose.”

Prim finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the Bears, who shot 40.6 percent from the floor (26 for 46) and went 9 for 24 from 3-point. The Sooners made as many as they missed, going 33 for 66. Gibson went 5 for 10 from beyond the arc.

“I’m really proud of our players,” Ford said. “When you look at our year, we had a really good year. Whether that be the amount of wins. Whether it’s finishing tied for second in our league, which I feel is one of the best leagues in the country. Or just our guys sticking together. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Missouri State was making its 10th appearance in the NIT and is now 10-10 all-time in the tournament. It was the first post-season game for the Bears since last appearing in the NIT in 2011.

The Bears finished the season with a 23-11 record in Coach Ford’s fourth season.

John Shinn is a freelance sports reporter who writes regularly for the Tulsa World. Twitter: @John_Shinn More by John Shinn