COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, Nov. 12, when it fell to the Iowa Western Community College Reivers 65-71 in the Iowa Western Community College Tournament in Council Bluffs.
The Grizzlies are now 4-1 on the season, having defeated Des Moines Area Community College 70-52 on Friday, Nov. 11, during the first night of the two-day event.
Turnovers seemed to be the source of frustration for the Grizzlies in both games. They coughed the ball up 18 times against Iowa Western and 20 times against Des Moines. “We really beat ourselves (against Iowa Western),”
Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We had too many turnovers, and we weren’t patient enough offensively. I’m proud of how we kept fighting, but we couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Grizzlies were down 38-32 at halftime and couldn’t outscore their opponents in the second half. They connected on 23 of 61 shots from the field for 38 percent, five of 18 shots from 3-point range for 20 percent and 14 of 24 free throws for 58 percent against Iowa Western. Sophomore Gage Wooten led the team with 23 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Nathane Simniok added 15 points and had nine rebounds.
The Reivers hit 24 of 49 attempts from the field for 49 percent, three of 15 3-pointers for 20 percent and 20 of 29 free throws for 69 percent. Alonzo Traylor led the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by Xavier Munford with 12, and Devin Brooks and Antonio Levy with 11 each. Traylor also had 12 rebounds.
“I was disappointed in our turnovers (against Des Moines) because most of them were completely unnecessary,” Walker said. “We tried to force things that were almost there when all we had to do was run our offense, reverse the ball and get easy baskets.”
Despite their own 20 turnovers, the Grizzlies forced Des Moines to cough up the ball 23 times. “Just by simply being sound defensively, we were able to create 23 turnovers,” Walker explained.
In addition to the turnovers, the Grizzlies struggled early on offensively. “We really lacked some focus in the first half. We missed eight point-blank layups and shot 12 of 35 from the floor for 34 percent. The only thing that was encouraging was the fact that our offense was getting us the shots we needed. We just weren’t finishing,” Walker said. “We were able to regroup at halftime. In the second half, we shot 59 percent and finished the plays we needed to and should have finished in the first half.”
The Grizzlies led 29-26 at halftime and outscored Des Moines 41 to 26 in the second half. Overall, the Grizzlies shot 29 of 64 from the field for 45 percent, six of 13 from 3-point range for 46 percent, and six of 10 from the free throw line for 60 percent. The Grizzlies shot 100 percent from the three in the second half, connecting on all three attempts during the period.
Wooten had 22 points to lead the Grizzlies’ scoring efforts. He was followed by sophomores Marin Petric with 13, and Farbod Farman and Simniok each with 10. Farman picked up his second double-double of the season and Simniok his first with 12 rebounds each. Both also grabbed four rebounds off the offensive glass during the game.
“They were bigger than we were, but I was happy with how many offensive rebounds we collected,” Walker said, pointing to his team’s 15 grabs.
Des Moines shot 18 of 51 from the field for 35 percent, six of 13 from 3-point range for 46 percent, and 10 of 23 from the charity stripe for 44 percent. Nate Mason was the leading scorer with 18 points, and Cole Martin added 10.
Walker said the Grizzlies need to learn from this weekend, especially the game against Iowa Western, and move forward “because it doesn’t get any easier from here. To make it even tougher, we have to make these jumps on the road.”
The Grizzlies travel to El Dorado, Kan., this week for a 7 p.m. contest against Butler County Community College on Saturday, Nov. 19, then they will compete in the Coffeyville Community College Elite 8 Tournament Dec. 1-3 in Coffeyville, Kan.
“We just have to simplify things and take pride in our defense, rebounding and our ability to be patient on offense,” Walker said.
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.