WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team will enter its first road trip of the season undefeated at 3-0 after posting a 71-62 victory over Independence (Kan.) Community College Tuesday evening, Nov. 8, at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
The Grizzlies will play their next eight games on the road before returning home Dec. 9 and 10 to host the Grizzly Holiday Classic Tournament.
Tuesday night, the Grizzlies found themselves in a dog fight with Pirates throughout much of the game. They held a narrow 28-24 advantage at halftime and didn’t begin pulling away until late in the game.
“Ugly wins are a lot better than pretty losses,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “Our guys just found a way to win, that’s it. We made enough plays to keep them at bay, never letting them get close enough to strike. We just had a guy step up and do something at the exact right time.”
The Grizzlies shot 26 of 46 from the field for 56.5 percent, five of 16 from 3-point range for 31.2 percent and 14 of 21 from the free throw line for 66.6 percent. The Pirates hit 22 of 43 shots from the field for 51.1 percent, five of eight from 3-point range for 62.5 percent and 13 of 21 from the free throw line for 61.9 percent.
Sophomore Gage Wooten led the Grizzlies in scoring with 19, followed by freshmen Miles Gatewood with 12 and Joe Northington 11, and sophomore Kevin Nelson 9. Christian Huffman was the leading scorer for the Pirates with 14 points, followed by Anthony Rule with 13 and TraVaughn White 9.
Missouri State-West Plains also outrebounded Independence 32-24. Wooten led the Grizzlies in this category with 10 grabs for a double-double performance.
Despite the advantage on the boards, Walker said the Grizzlies need some improvement, especially on the offensive end. “We have to get more aggressive on the offensive glass again,” he said, pointing out the Grizzlies only had nine offensive rebounds. “We have to get back to making teams score over us and being the harder working team. We leave too much to chance when we’re not.
“We have to do a better job taking care of the ball, as well,” he added, pointing to his team’s 15 turnovers during the game.
The Grizzlies will travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa, this week to compete in the Iowa Western Community College Classic Tournament. They will face Des Moines Area Community College on Friday and the host team on Saturday.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.